September 04, 2015 // Facility Spotlight: Flying Cloud (Minneapolis) Tower
There is a strong 100 percent NATCA membership (10 CPCs and 1 trainee) at level five facility, Flying Cloud Tower (FCM) in Minneapolis. The airport was purchased from a farmer who had a grass strip in 1948, and the tower was built in 1963. In 1966, FCM was the second busiest airport in the central U.S., behind Chicago O’Hare, and in 1968 was the ninth busiest in the country.
FCM is a Class D, VFR tower that works closely with Minneapolis TRACON (M98). It handles a variety of aircraft, including piston, turbo, and jet aircraft along with a few helicopters.
“Our pilots keep things interesting for us,” explains FacRep Jerah Kavoosi. “We have a mix of General Aviation (GA), student pilots, professional pilots, and corporate jets. We all work hard to have extra patience when traffic levels increase and pilots need additional help or instruction navigating the airspace and the airport. Our traffic levels decline during the winter months, but on a “nice” winter day everyone comes out to fly.
The facility has no lack of special events under its purview, which draw large crowds and make the airspace more interesting to work.
“One great event we have is the air expo, which draws large crowds of people who watch pilots give demonstrations and even offer air rides,” explains Kavoosi. “We have old military planes that take part in the event, like a B-17G Flying Fortress and a P-51D mustang.”
The small group atmosphere of the facility make local solidarity events hard to organize, but larger area events that much more fun.
“Because we have a small group, we don’t normally have an opportunity for our local to meet outside of our quarterly meetings,” says Kavoosi. “When there are larger events held in the area, it is fun to meet other controllers and see the bigger picture of what and who NATCA really is. We are proud to have 100 percent enrollment in the union and many of our controllers want to take active roles to make our facility better. We may not be a large facility or the busiest facility, but we take pride in our jobs and provide a professional service to anyone who checks on our frequency.”