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Kingsley earns top award for air traffic control complex

The 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron and 173rd Fighter Wing Air Field Management Operations were recognized as the Airfield Operations Complex of the Year for 2013.  (U.S. Air National Guard illustration by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released).

The 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron and 173rd Fighter Wing Air Field Management Operations out of Kingsley Field, Ore. were recognized as the Airfield Operations Complex of the Year for 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard illustration by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released).

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --

Approximately one year ago the Associated Press reported that Kingsley Field's air traffic control tower was selected for closure under the terms of sequestration, a term describing a budget impasse in the U.S. Congress.

This galvanized a strong response, and the FAA ultimately removed Kingsley Field's tower from the closure list.

Over that year the people at the 270th have maintained a high standard of work, so high in fact they were named 2013 Airfield Operations Flight Complex of the Year for the entire Air National Guard. The unit is no stranger to the award having earned it in 2008 as well. "This airfield operations award, this is the big one," said Maj. Michael Balzotti, 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron Commander.

The award takes into account three main areas, airfield management which falls under the 173rd Fighter Wing, radar approach control and the tower which are both part of the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron.

The chief of air traffic control airspace and ranges at National Guard Bureau, Mr. S. Scott Duke presided over the board who ultimately selected Kingsley for the top award in the field noted that the 270th and 173rd Airfield Management operations have an established track record of excellence.

"They would certainly be the benchmark that others would need to strive to attain to be competitive," said Duke. "They really have mastered the association you need with management of the airfield, the controllers in the tower and the services provided by the radar controllers."

He said the award shows each of the three areas--tower, radar and airfield management--are performing at a high level.

"This award recognizes a balance between the areas," said Duke. "You can't have one area, the tower for instance that was superb, they all three have to be excellent."

Doug Cunningham, 270th Air Traffic Manager sums up the mission saying, "it's maintenance, it's supply, it's logistics and especially keeping people ready to deploy all over the world to control aircraft."

Those pieces will be tested yet further as the Kingsley Field adds more aircraft and controls a complex mixture of Air National Guard, fire suppression, general, and commercial aviation. There is even an air race featuring more than 50 aircraft scheduled for this June.