The end of an era

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Greg Cullen

No, I'm not referring to Brett Favre retiring. I'm talking about some of the equipment used in the Volk Field Radar Approach Control (RAPCON). Since the RAPCON opened their fixed facility in February of 1999, they have been controlling the skies using the GPN-20/TPX-42 RADAR system. The system was taken out of DEPOT after being decommissioned when K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, Mich. closed. Volk Field's RADAR maintenance team patched up the antiquated equipment and made a reliable system once again. 

However, Master Sgt. Scot Kyser has been working since 2000 on obtaining a new RADAR system called digital airport surveillance radar (DASR) and standard terminal automation replacement systems (STARS). Sergeant Kyser worked feverishly with numerous agencies throughout the process to make the changeover possible on March 6. Sergeant Kyser spoke highly of the new capabilities. 

"The DASR and STARS will enable Volk Field to bring long range radar feed from adjacent FAA facilities. Likewise, the FAA will be able to use our radar feed and significantly reduce some of the limitations they used to experience, i.e. a center controller will be able to see an aircraft down to 500 feet near Volk Field; whereas, one couldn't see below 5,000 feet before," said Sergeant Kyser. 

Master Sgt. Mike Krug was selected to become the Air Traffic noncomissioned officer in charge of Air Traffic Control Automation and is in charge of the STARS equipment. Unlike the previous equipment, when controllers called the RADAR maintainers for any malfunction, Sergeant Krug will now be called at times. 

"I will handle all software issues and they will handle equipment issues," said Sergeant Krug. 

The STARS equipment requires daily checks. Therefore, Air Traffic Manager Master Sgt. Buck Reynolds sent Tech. Sgt. Earl Ells and Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Hammer to the six-week automation specialist class. 

"Having three qualified technicians will allow coverage during TDYs' and leave", Sergeant Reynolds said. "STARS is state of the art equipment. It's the same equipment the FAA uses at Milwaukee Traffic Control. 

Volk Field is only the second Air National Guard unit in the country to be using STARS so far. 

"The RADAR presentation is much clearer - a world of difference," Sergeant Krug said.  

Controllers are still getting used to numerous new features and capabilities. But, the beginning of a new era has arrived. I'm talking about Aaron Rodgers now!