Real-world missions continue during Vigilant Ace 16
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- F-16s scream down the runway trailing fire, while A-10s and C-17s slip almost silently onto the airfield. Osan's night sky is filled with the lights and sounds of the myriad aircraft participating in Vigilant Ace 16.
As the peninsula-wide readiness exercise kicks into high gear, the men and women of the 51st Operations Support Squadron radar approach control shop, or RAPCON, are preparing for an increase in air traffic.
"We're looking forward to the training opportunities," said Master Sgt. Terrance Horn, 51st OSS senior watch supervisor air traffic control operations.
In addition to the exercise aircraft, the RAPCON is also the controlling agency for all of Suwon and Desidero, commonly referred to as Camp Humphreys, airspace and manages the civilian air traffic to and from the airports there.
"At different airports you get situations that you run into that may cause you to be busy for one reason or another," said Horn. "But working with fighters is always more challenging.
"When working with fighters that can do 400 knots, everything that you do has to be a quick decision; you don't have a lot of time to second guess yourself. You have to stick to your decision and it has to be right every time. There's no option to be wrong."
When lives are in the balance the pressure can become too much for some.
"It's an individual thing as to how you deal with it," said Horn. "Some people would think it's stressful but personally, I love it. I love my crew, these guys are great, everybody works really well together and we're a very successful crew for the simple fact that we love our job."