Raleigh-Durham Tower (RDU) is a level 9 facility that was commissioned in May of 1987. There are 43 NATCA members at the facility.
The facility is responsible for 40 miles of airspace surrounding the area which is known as “The Triangle” (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill).
RDU also works with Greensboro Approach, Fayetteville Approach, Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, and Washington Center.
“We work mostly commercial aviation, a fair amount of private jets because of the medical and technical fields at Duke University, UNC (University of North Carolina), and N.C. State,” says FacRep Chad Hidinger. “There is also an Army National Guard helicopter unit we frequently work.”
Working many specialty air operations is not the only thing that sets RDU apart.
“A large amount of traffic that departs RDU is destined for the major airports in the northeast and they all must comply with flow restrictions,” Hidinger explains. “We have to move a lot of aircraft around on the ground to get them in the right order before we put them in the air.”
Special events at RDU revolve around nearby universities. “College sports dominate ‘The Triangle’ area. Our general aviation ramp fills up quickly whenever Duke University, UNC, or N.C. State have a sporting event,” says Hidinger.
Solidarity is an important part of life for RDU controllers. “We hold events at local restaurants and always put together huge meals for the controllers who end up working on major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Hidinger says. “The NATCA local atmosphere at RDU is great. We have a lot of new equipment and ideas coming our way and there is no shortage of NATCA members volunteering to get involved.”
He continues, “For me, the best part about being the FacRep is the opportunity to get to know all of my co-workers. If I don’t routinely interact with everybody I represent, I become misinformed and can’t do the job I was elected to do to the best of my ability.”