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May 14, 2015 // Facility Spotlight: Grand Forks ATCT (GFK)

Grand Forks ATCT (GFK) has a strong NATCA membership, with 27 members out of its 28 employees. It is a level 9 tower in Grand Forks, ND, responsible for just over four miles of airspace around the airport, going up to 3,300 feet. GFK works closely with the Grand Forks Air Force base, located 10 miles to the west, which controls the airspace above and around the facility’s designated airspace.

A majority of the airplanes worked by controllers at the facility are small training aircraft, explains GFK FacRep Jesse Roberts.

“We are the home to the University of North Dakota’s Flight School,” he says. “Depending on the weather, we can be the third busiest airport in the country for the day.”

Roberts says it’s not uncommon to have 1,800 operations per day, and more than 150 operations per hour.

“Because of the high number of operations and the flight school, the facility has adopted the fitting motto that ‘every day’s an airshow,’” he explains.

Despite working an incredibly busy airspace, GFK still holds solidarity events throughout the year.

“For the last couple of years, we’ve been hosting a Christmas party where we get all of the families together,” explains Roberts. “It’s been hard for us to get together as a facility with everyone on different schedules.”

The 27 members of GFK have a combined 26 kids under 10 years old, further complicating their schedules.

“We decided it was easier to have a party suitable for all ages, and we’ve had good turnout since we changed the format,” says Clouse. “This last year we went bowling, and the year before we went curling. Other than that, we hold a NATCA meeting every quarter.”

In addition to solidarity events, the NATCA atmosphere is positive and dedicated at GFK.

“I think the best part of being the FacRep here is the willingness of everyone to help out,” Roberts says. “It amazes me every day how many people are willing to cut their breaks short, or do something on their own time to help out. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a workgroup, organizing a meeting, or remodeling the NATCA floor – I’ve never had a problem finding someone.”