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February 12, 2015 // Facility Spotlight: Midland ATCT/TRACON

There are 15 CPCs and six developments at Midland ATCT/TRACON (MAF) in Texas, making a total of 21 NATCA members at this level seven facility.

Commissioned in January 1983, this building houses controllers who work Class C airspace for all aircraft arriving and departing Midland International Airport.

MAF Approach works aircraft in an approximately 40 NM ring around MAF, and any air traffic up to 13,000 MSL. MAF TRACON controllers also work San Angelo Approach, according to NATCA MAF FacRep Justin Oeffling. That airspace is located about 90 miles southeast of MAF, and consists of an approximately 35 NM ring around the Class D airspace (run by a contract tower, Mathis Field (SJT)), and up to 12,000 MSL.

Midland Approach works primarily with ZFW, specifically the controllers who work the Center’s Lubbock low sector as well as MAF low sector. San Angelo Approach works with the contract tower SJT, ZHU sectors Stonewall (STV) low and Rock Springs (RSG) low, ZFW sectors MAF low and Abilene (ABI) low, as well as ABI Approach.

MAF works a wide variety of aircraft. Oeffling explains that due to the oil boom in West Texas, MAF has seen an uptick in both air carrier and corporate operations. Aircraft types include King Airs, Lear Jets, Citations, E135/145, B737, and CRJ2/7. There are also some small flight school traffic and general aviation operations based out of MAF and its two main satellite airports (Odess Schlemeyer [ODO] and Midland Airpark [MDD]), mainly C172s, C182s, BE35s, M20Ps, etc.

“We also work a lot of military traffic in both the radar and VFR traffic pattern including BE40s, T-38s, Tex2s, C5s, C130s, F18s, Harriers, H60s, H64s, H47s, and Hawks,” says Oeffling.

The military aircraft are based at DRT, SHP, DYS, CVS, and RND. The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is also based at MAF. Its fleet includes a large variety of WWII aircraft that generally fly during the weekends.

“We have one set of parallel runways and two intersecting runways at MAF,” says Oeffling. “San Angelo Approach generally works VFR and IFR over flights as well as multiple military practice approaches, similar to MAF.”

Weather is generally always very nice in West Texas, according to Oeffling, so that is never much of an issue for the controllers at MAF. Though, as he explains, the complexity of the operation comes from the runway configuration and the wide variety of aircraft that are in and out of the area.

“A mix of GA, corporate, AC, and military traffic can always make things interesting,” he says. “A big difference from other up/down facilities is that we work two entirely different approach controls to two separate airports.”

The busiest time for MAF is traditionally when the CAF hosts the AirShow, which brings in WWII aircraft from all over the country for the weekend. The very next week is usually the Oil Show, which brings a jump in corporate itinerant traffic.

Oeffling says that the NATCA membership at MAF likes to have cookouts and holiday parties. He adds that the mean age at the facility is gradually getting younger with each new hire that arrives.

“Being FacRep has been a great experience,” he says. “The learning curve can be steep and it can be stressful, but it is also rewarding.”