The future of flying is secure at Keesler

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Davis
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

One of Keesler’s major construction projects, undertaking repairs to the airfield and runway, was completed March 14.

Repairs were made to a depression in the runway and several drains under the airfield that were mostly a result of water erosion due to the high-water table in the area and the airfield’s proximity to Back Bay.

“Anytime you have construction on a runway there are very specific requirements that have to be met in order for the aircraft to still be able to operate safely,” said Bobbie Longe, 81st Training Wing assistant airfield manager. “So that meant we had to figure out how much runway we could still have and meet obstacle height clearances over any construction vehicles on the roadway.”

Airmen and civilians played a large role in maintaining operations. Pilots, Airfield Management, Maintenance, Contracting, Civil Engineering, Vectrus, Fuels, Passenger Service, Air Traffic Control, Radar and Weather Systems, Weather and the Fire Department worked together and learned basic skills outside of their career field to continue the mission.

“I saw tower and RAWS Airmen stepping out of their comfort zone getting airfield driving qualified, helping with airfield setup, helping with escorting the contractors,” said Master Sgt. Carlos Santiago, 81st Training Wing Tower Chief controller. “The way the Air Force has been moving is that we're turning into multi-capable Airmen and now have a basic understanding about what it is that other units go through on a regular basis.”

Keesler’s airfield serves the 815th Airlift Squadron Flying Jennies and 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Hurricane Hunters, as well as aircraft from Key Field in Meridian, Mississippi, Gulfport International Airport, Stennis International Airport, Columbus Air Force Base, U.S. Coast Guard Station Pensacola and local hospitals for medical evacuation support.

The airfield renovations have secured the safety to support future flying operations at Keesler, including the upcoming airshow, Thunder Over the Sound, coming April 28-30.

“We're making all these adjustments to the airfield in perfect time for the airshow to come here and showcase the team we have here at Keesler,” said Santiago.