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May 17, 2013 // Facility Spotlight: Savannah ATCT (SAV)

This level 8 up/down facility is nearly 100 percent NATCA (only two non-members). The 212-foot tall tower is open from 6 a.m. to midnight, and controllers are responsible for aircraft within a 40-mile radius around Savannah Airport, and up to 10,000 feet.

SAV controllers work with those at Jacksonville Center, Hunter Army Airfield Tower/Ground Control Approach, Hilton Head Contract Tower, Beaufort Marine Approach, Sealord (military warning area), and Midcoast Regional Airport (Fort Stewart Army Department of Defense tower controllers). Controllers direct a variety of regional jets, air carriers, general aviation aircraft and a mix of military aircraft, including C130s, F22s, F18s, and F16s. They also guide all types of Gulfstreams, including the latest, G650.

SAV NATCA Facility Representative Mary Mayconich-Beasley says there is a lot of military activity due to location on the airport grounds of the only Combat Readiness Training Center east of the Mississippi River and a C130 Guard Unit. Aircraft from those units do practice exercises departing from SAV and flying to the Warning Areas, offshore to the east. The military also uses the two restricted areas (R3005 and R30007), Coastal MOAs (Military Operations Areas), which are in SAV’s airspace.

“Because we work with three military bases, our traffic includes a variety of military requests,” says Mayconich-Beasley.

One of the unique parts about working at SAV is that Gulfstream aircraft are built and maintained at the airport, from which Mayconich-Beasley says numerous requests come to the tower while different systems for the aircraft are tested.

The most unique aspect of working at SAV is that occasionally the controllers are cemetery tour guides. There are two graves that exist on the north side of Runway 10/28, and two more graves in the grass area beside it. Mayconich-Beasley explains that the graves are for Richard Dotson, who died in 1884, and Catherine Dotson, who died in 1877. The airport grounds used to be farmland, which was granted to the Dotson family from a king in Europe. Due to the increase in air travel, the farmland became Chatham Airport, and then Savannah Airport. When that happened, the Dotson’s great grandchildren couldn’t bring themselves to move their ancestors’ graves off the land.