The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Progress 2013

March 9, 2013

Vance's towering project

New air traffic control facility set to open at one of the Air Force’s busiest airfields

(Continued)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE — Little more room to grow

Vance has the fifth busiest air traffic control location in the Air Force, said Lt. Col. Donald Callaghan, commander of 71st Operations Support Squadron.

The new tower not only will help train student pilots at Vance but air traffic controllers as well. Vance trains a number of controllers in both the tower and radar approach control every year. Currently there are 21 3-level air traffic control trainees at Vance, with 10 more expected in the next three months, Callaghan said.

“The new tower will add to our existing training capacity, since there will be more room for controllers and trainees without overcrowding,” Callaghan said. “Since the new tower has significantly more area, it provides for the inclusion of a room dedicated to the tower simulator and separate training and break rooms, drastically cutting down on crowding and distractions.

“This added capacity will also allow for more dual-qualified controllers (those certified in both the Radar Approach Control and tower). The new tower also will incorporate new equipment for airfield lighting and new digital voice recording capacity.”

The new tower will contain a simulator room, training classroom and offices. In addition, the simulator room will serve as a tornado shelter.

This will be Vance’s third control tower since the base was built in 1941, Hazlett said.

Ongoing projects

The tower is the only new construction presently ongoing on base. An ongoing project involves renovation of the base’s enlisted dormitories. That is a $6.5 million project to replace the heating and air conditioning systems in the 1950s-era dorms, as well as modernizing the kitchens. One goal is to make the dorms more energy efficient and eliminate a possible mold issue due to moisture on the old heating and cooling lines.

“They’re doing the second of two buildings,” said Lt. Col. Richard Ward, deputy commander of 71st Mission Support Group. “We’re on schedule with the second building.”

“We’re not going through and redecorating or redoing any of the layout,” said Hazlett, “we’re primarily doing heating and air conditioning to control moisture. We had some minor mold issues, nothing that was a health risk, but we didn’t want it to get there. Plus the kitchens were kind of dated.”

There is one kitchen on each floor of the buildings, one of which has a capacity of 52, the other of 53.

A $30 million project for outside runway repair has been pushed back to fiscal year 2015 by Air Education and Training Command.

“There’s no new construction right now because we’re in a continuing resolution,” said Ward.

Department of Defense and Congress have declared a moratorium in funding military construction (milcon) projects in FY 2013.

The courtyard area in the base’s temporary lodging facility is being revamped with construction dollars from FY 2012. New lighting will be added and sidewalks will be redone.

“We want to make it so people want to be outside and enjoy that area,” Hazlett said.

Dyer’s other project is installation of high expansion fire suppression foam systems for two of Vance’s hangars, 141 and 129. In case of fire, those systems can quickly fill the hangar with foam to douse the flames. That likewise is being paid for with FY 2012 funds. That project is in the design phase.

“That’s so we have more capability to do more maintenance,” he said.

The base’s No. 1 future military construction project is a proposed $17.9 million effort to expand and consolidate existing flying squadron facilities.

The goal is “to bring them up to size standards,” said Hazlett, “because right now they are all undersized and significantly cramped.”

Besides, there are issues with heating and air conditioning.

“Their heating and air conditioning systems, especially in the two main flying squadron buildings, are very old and antiquated,” he said. “They can’t keep up with the heat that we have in the summer.”

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Progress 2013
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