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September 18, 2014 // Facility Spotlight: Kalaeloa Tower (JRF)

Kalaeloa is the second busiest VFR tower in the military, averaging over 130,000 air operations annually.

The state of Hawaii assumed responsibility of JRF on July 1, 1999. The facility joined the Federal Contract Tower program on April 1, 2001, and was NATCA-represented starting July 3, 2001.

The controllers work Class D airspace up to 2,500 feet within a 4.3 nautical mile radius of the Kalaeloa Airport. 

JRF works closely with Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on a daily basis. The two are located eight miles apart.

JRF controllers work many different kinds of aircraft including commercial airlines, single and twin-engine aircraft, various models of civilian helicopters, corporate jets, and experimental aircraft. Controllers also work military aircraft including transport aircraft, tankers, P-3, V-22 Osprey, a mixture of transport, attack, and surveillance helicopters, and jet aircraft.

Kalaeloa Airport is the launch site and emergency response platform for Coast Guard Search and Rescue Operations, as well as the primary training airfield for nearly every model of general aviation and military aircraft. The primary training mixed with the parallel and intersecting runways makes JRF a complex operation.

Adding to the complexity, many special civilian and military operations including night vision device (NVD), helicopter hoist operations, photo missions, police and fire aircraft operations, and fish spotting operations occur within JRF’s airspace.

President Obama visits the Hawaiian Islands annually. JRF plays a large part in coordinating the aircraft operations on and around the island during the visit. JRF coordinates with HCF and the Secret Service to make sure the visit runs smoothly.

Another important event is the Bi-Annual RIMPAC Exercise. This event brings in military pilots and aircraft from the United States and many other countries. The foreign pilots are occasionally unfamiliar with English, which brings a heavier workload for controllers at JRF.

The NATCA local atmosphere has improved dramatically within the past year, with members recognizing the importance of what NATCA represents and the significance of taking an active role in supporting and furthering the efforts of the Union,” says FacRep Nate Dixon.

The JRF local hosts an annual dinner cruise for members and their families, which enhances the solidarity between members.

“The best part about being the NATCA FacRep is that it gives me an opportunity to improve the solidarity of local members and also provide the leadership necessary to ensure that our facility remains an active force and participant in supporting our regional and national agenda,” says Dixon.