June 14, 2012

Yuma mobile team improves Miramar Marines’ aviation capabilities

Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
Desert Warrior Staff
Photo by Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
A KC-130J Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, based out of MCAS Miramar, Calif., lands at Auxiliary Airfield II in the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona, June 7. An improvised Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team (MMT) from Marine Aviation Control Squadron 1, based at MCAS Yuma worked with the unit. and others from California, with improvised airfields. The orange marker in the foreground is used to calculate where a plane lands, and how accurate a pilot’s landing was.

An improvised Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team (MMT) from Marine Aviation Control Squadron 1, working with both local and California units, completed the last leg of a four-part airfield exercise at Auxiliary Airfield II in the Barry M. Goldwater Range,  maintained by MCAS Yuma, June 7.

MMTs, which are comprised of air traffic controllers, communications technicians, navigation aid technicians, are used to alter airfields to better meet pilots’ needs for aviation operations, or in this case, training.

“This provides all Marines involved the ability to provide aerial support in an expeditionary manner for forward deployed operations,” said Sgt. Clinton Singleton, a MACS-1, Detachment Charlie air traffic controller and a native of Atlanta, Ga.

From Arizona to Afghanistan to Africa, MMTs are key in molding a command’s area of operations. Since the end of May, the MMT has overseen the piloting abilities of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, based out of MCAS Miramar, Calif., in support of Enhanced Mojave Viper.

“Depending on what pilots want, we’ll determine what airfield is put up,” said Singleton of the KC-130J Hercules with VMGR-352.

Singleton explained that the Marines go off of what’s called an airfield marking pattern (AMP). Depending on which of the three AMPs pilots want, the airfield has more or less markings for pilots to use.

The purpose of the markings, with AMP-I having the most markings, is to help increase the pilots’ landing accuracy.

The Marines give pilots data to compute, and call where the craft’s tires touch down, with the end result being the pilot comes in for a smooth, safe landing, explained Gunnery Sgt. Jose Rodriguez, the MMT leader and a native of Philadelphia, Penn.

AUX-II is 3,000 ft. long. The Hercules needs 2,000 ft. top stop. It’s a chore for the pilots to analyze the weather information and safety advisories given by the MMT, but it’s either that or a shoddy landing.

What the pilots strive for are ‘bulls-eyes’, said Rodriguez.

Though touch-and-goes are usual for pilots, the exercise also included rapid ground refueling for the Hercules. Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 provided the ground refuelers as well as Crash, Fire and Rescue Marines lest something go wrong during training.

The Marines packed away their gear after the Hercules performed its final love tap in the Yuma desert, another exercise complete, another pilot more experienced after training in the desert Southwest.

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