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January 03, 2014 // Facility Spotlight: PAE ATCT

About 25 miles north of Seattle is the city of Everett, Wash., home to the 100 percent NATCA facility Everett Paine Field ATCT (PAE).

According to the PAE NATCA Facility Representative, James Haugen, this facility has been 100 percent NATCA since 1998!

There are 12 Certified Professional Controllers (CPCs) and three Developmentals working at this level six, 182-foot tall radar-equipped tower.

The NATCA members who work here guide air traffic within the facility’s Class D airspace, which sits below Seattle TRACON’s (S46) airspace.

Everett is home to not only the largest public marina on the West Coast, it is also the home of Boeing’s assembly plant for the 747, 767, 777 and the 787, as well as Naval Station Everett. Haugen says PAE has the largest number of general aviation aircraft based at it than any other Washington airport. Though the Boeing factory is located in Everett, it only makes up for a small percentage of PAE’s air traffic since each new aircraft typically goes through only two flight tests before being delivered. Haugen adds there are also three different flight museums at PAE, giving the controllers one of the most diverse mix of aircraft in the country.

“On any given day you can work anything from a 787 to an historic Mustang or Spitfire,” says Haugen. “If you are an airplane geek this is the place to work.”

The aircraft comprising the flying heritage collection based at PAE are listed below (most are in flying condition and fly throughout the year, according to Haugen):

Hawker Hurricane Mk.XIIA
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc
Germany Fieseler Fi 156 C-2 Storch
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-13 (Dora)
Messerschmitt 163 B Komet
Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3 (Emil)
Japan Mitsubishi A6M3-22 Reisen (Zero)
Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Oscar)
Russia Ilyushin II-2M3 Shturmovik
Mikoyan MiG-29UB Fulcrum
Polikarpov I-16 Type 24 (Rata)
Polikarpov U-2/Po-2
United States Curtiss JN-4D Jenny
Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat
North American B-25J Mitchell
North American P-51D Mustang
Republic P-47D

Working and living in a certified “All-America City” seems to have rubbed off on the NATCA members at PAE. Describing his members as a “diverse group of individuals who get along very well with each other,” Haugen says he believes he has the best group of NATCA members for which a FacRep could ask.

“Not only do we work great as a team, many of us have a friendship that extends outside of the work place,” he says. “Our members are also involved in the Union, participating in lobby week, Communicating for Safety (CFS) and other NATCA programs.”

Haugen adds that sequestration, the government shutdown, and the related political turmoil of 2013 made it a challenging year to be FacRep, but having good people to represent made it very rewarding for him.

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Facility Spotlight: Baton Rouge Ryan Field ATCT
Friday, January 10, 2014

There are 15 NATCA members who work in the tower located in Louisiana’s capital: Baton Rouge Ryan Field ATCT (BTR).

Operations at this level 7 up/down facility in “The Capital City” run from 5 a.m. to midnight, local time.

Commissioned in 1982, BTR is 76 feet tall from the ground to the floor of the tower cab. BTR controllers are responsible for guiding a mix of general aviation, commercial and military aircraft within 40 miles of the tower, from the Earth’s surface up to 10,000 feet. They also guide aircraft that come from a new helicopter flight school in the area.

BTR NATCA members work with controllers at Fort Polk Army Airfield Tower (POE), Lafayette ATCT (LFT), New Orleans ATCT and Houston Center (ZHU).

BTR NATCA Facility Representative Nikki Thomas says what’s different about working at BTR than at another tower is that the weather can change rapidly in Baton Rouge, including frequent pop-up thunderstorms.

Thomas says Louisiana State University (LSU) football games and other LSU sporting events can bring heavy amounts of traffic into BTR’s airspace, as did last year’s Super Bowl. Other events such as Mardi Gras also contribute to increased traffic as well as hurricane season, because BTR is the Louisiana National Disaster Recovery Airport.

“One of the major petroleum refineries is located in BTR creating a large amount of pipeline inspection aircraft,” adds Thomas.

NATCA events at BTR include holiday parties, monthly birthday parties, facility barbecues, and Thomas says controllers often get together outside the facility as well.

Thomas notes that the BTR NATCA members have handled a lot of adversity in the past couple of years with many changes in the front office and in the supervisor office.

“They have continued to work with the highest level of professionalism and dedication on a daily basis,” says Thomas. “The best part of being the FacRep is getting to support the members and being involved in many aspects of the facility.”