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June 05, 2014 // Facility Spotlight: Nantucket Memorial Airport

On Nantucket Island, 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, is the Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK). ACK is a level 6 VFR tower with all 10 controllers being NATCA members.

The controllers are responsible for Class D airspace. Cape Approach (K90) provides the radar services into and out of the Class D airspace. Other than K90, ACK works with Boston Center (ZBW), Hyannis (HYA), and White Plains (HPN).

ACK works a wide variety of aircraft. Regional carriers fly prop and turbo prop aircraft, including Cessna Caravans and 402s, Piper Navajos, Barons, King Airs, and Pilatus aircraft. During the summer months, JetBlue (E190), Continental (DH8), US Airways, and Delta (CRJs) all fly into the airport. The summer season also brings a lot of single engine general aviation traffic and corporate/private jet traffic. “The fleet mix presents a fun challenge,” ACK FacRep Tim Brannigan says.

There are no bridges to the island, only boats that travel back and forth. However, even the “fast ferry” takes up to an hour to reach the island. With the lack of efficient transportation to and from Nantucket, the ACK locals reside on the island rather than commuting.

The fog that often surrounds Nantucket makes for a unique experience working at the ACK tower. Smartertravel.com named ACK one of America’s scariest airports to fly into!

ACK’s workload gets heavier during the summer months while the population of the island increases from 10,000 to over 50,000. The events held on Nantucket that attract visitors during the summer include the Nantucket Wine Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, and Boston Pops on the Beach. Visitors also flood in for the Christmas Stroll event in December.

TFRs are established while President Obama vacations on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer and Vice President Joe Biden spends his Thanksgiving on the island.

The New England Region Pre-Convention FacRep meetings will be hosted on Nantucket in June. The ACK local is excited that Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Executive Director Barry Krasner, Region X Vice President Mike MacDonald, and New England Region reps will be able to see the island and their facility. Brannigan says, “It’s exciting for our small local to have NATCA come to the island to see the facility first-hand, as well as some of the unique challenges that small island living presents but why we love it here!”