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86th OSS sticks the landing

Airmen from the 86th Operations Support Squadron climb air traffic control radio antennas at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight regularly checks all Instrument Landing System’s parameters to ensure the antenna towers and monitors are performing correctly.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Airmen from the 86th Operations Support Squadron climb air traffic control radio antennas at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight regularly checks all Instrument Landing System’s parameters to ensure the antenna towers and monitors are performing correctly.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Joshua Russell, 52nd Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, climbs an air traffic control radio antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The 86th Operations Support Squadron monitors, repairs and maintains all air traffic, landing, radio and weather systems at Ramstein. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Joshua Russell, 52nd Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, climbs an air traffic control radio antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The 86th Operations Support Squadron monitors, repairs and maintains all air traffic, landing, radio and weather systems at Ramstein. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Mathew Godec, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, bundles excess rope at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. This equipment is used to assist 86th OSS Airmen in climbing air traffic control radio antennas across the base to keep the airfield open and the Instrument Landing Systems in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration and International Civil Aviation Organization standards.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Mathew Godec, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, bundles excess rope at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. This equipment is used to assist 86th OSS Airmen in climbing air traffic control radio antennas across the base to keep the airfield open and the Instrument Landing Systems in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration and International Civil Aviation Organization standards. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, climbs down from an air traffic control radio antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. Airmen who climb the antennas go through a climbing certification course that includes a basic fear of heights test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, climbs down from an air traffic control radio antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. Airmen who climb the antennas go through a climbing certification course that includes a basic fear of heights test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, climbs air traffic control radio antennas at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The 86th Operations Support Squadron Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight maintains approximately 40dozens of air traffic control radio antennas across the base, furthering the mission to generate and employ airpower around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, climbs air traffic control radio antennas at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The 86th Operations Support Squadron Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight maintains approximately 40dozens of air traffic control radio antennas across the base, furthering the mission to generate and employ airpower around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, climbs air traffic control radio antennas at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The 86th OSS performs visual inspection of the Navigational Aids and on the ground measurements to ensure the equipment is working. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, climbs air traffic control radio antennas at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The 86th OSS performs visual inspection of the Navigational Aids and on the ground measurements to ensure the equipment is working. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, tests her equipment’s hold on an air traffic control radio antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. In addition to air traffic control radio antennas, the 86th OSS maintains Instrument Landing Systems on multiple runways, the tactical air navigation system, and many air-to -ground radios.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, tests her equipment’s hold on an air traffic control radio antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. In addition to air traffic control radio antennas, the 86th OSS maintains Instrument Landing Systems on multiple runways, the tactical air navigation system, and many air-to -ground radios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Lt. Col Jason Shephard, 86th Operations Support Squadron commander, climbs down from an air traffic control radio antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. In addition to air traffic control radio antennas, the 86th OSS maintains Instrument Landing Systems on multiple runways, the tactical air navigation system, and many air-to -ground radios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Lt. Col Jason Shephard, 86th Operations Support Squadron commander, climbs down from an air traffic control radio antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. In addition to air traffic control radio antennas, the 86th OSS maintains Instrument Landing Systems on multiple runways, the tactical air navigation system, and many air-to -ground radios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, puts together an antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The antenna is part of a specially built test vehicle the Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight uses to drive the length of the runway eight times with a larger antenna attached to the vehicle 12 meters in height to simulate an aircraft and ensure the signals are being brought directly down the centerline. This system is a zero visibility-auto land system that requires additional checks to verify the system is performing as required. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Senior Airman Nikki Erling, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems technician, puts together an antenna at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The antenna is part of a specially built test vehicle the Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight uses to drive the length of the runway eight times with a larger antenna attached to the vehicle 12 meters in height to simulate an aircraft and ensure the signals are being brought directly down the centerline. This system is a zero visibility-auto land system that requires additional checks to verify the system is performing as required. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

An 86th Operations Support Squadron vehicle sits on the flight line at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight uses a specially built test vehicle to drive the length of the runway several times with an antenna 12 meters in height to simulate an aircraft and ensure the signals are being brought directly down the centerline. This system is a zero visibility-auto land system that requires additional checks to verify the system is performing as required. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)
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An 86th Operations Support Squadron vehicle sits on the flight line at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight uses a specially built test vehicle to drive the length of the runway several times with an antenna 12 meters in height to simulate an aircraft and ensure the signals are being brought directly down the centerline. This system is a zero visibility-auto land system that requires additional checks to verify the system is performing as required. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Tech. Sgt. Richard Biggins, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems NCO in charge, inspects a portable instrument landing system receiver at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight uses a specially built test vehicle to drive the length of the runway multiple times with an antenna 12 meters in height to simulate an aircraft and ensure the signals are being brought directly down the centerline. This system is a zero visibility-auto land system that requires additional checks to verify the system is performing as required. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)
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Tech. Sgt. Richard Biggins, 86th Operations Support Squadron airfield systems NCO in charge, inspects a portable instrument landing system receiver at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 14, 2016. The Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight uses a specially built test vehicle to drive the length of the runway multiple times with an antenna 12 meters in height to simulate an aircraft and ensure the signals are being brought directly down the centerline. This system is a zero visibility-auto land system that requires additional checks to verify the system is performing as required. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

Ensuring a safe flight in bad weather can be challenging, but having a reliable Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems team can make sticking the landing much smoother.

The 86th Operations Support Squadron ATCALS flight maintains dozens of air traffic control radio antennas across the base, furthering the mission to generate and employ airpower around the globe.

Maintaining equipment is a huge part of the job; their maintenance includes Instrument Landing Systems on multiple runways, the tactical air navigation system, and many air-to -ground radios. 

“They are the key enablers of the strategic power projection platform for United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces in Africa,” said Lt. Col Jason Shephard, 86th OSS commander. “They monitor, repair, and maintain all air traffic, landing, radio and weather systems. And (climbing antennas) is how they will have to repair, if needed, an important component to keep these systems operational.”

The ATCALS flight checks all the Instrument Landing Systems parameters regularly to ensure the antenna towers and monitors are performing correctly.  Necessary adjustments are made to keep the airfield open and the ILS in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration and International Civil Aviation Organization standards. These checks include performing visual inspection of the Navigational Aids and performing on the ground measurements.

“When most people at Ramstein are at home for the night getting ready for bed, our mission is just starting,” said Tech. Sgt. Richard Biggins, 86th OSS airfield systems NCO in charge. “No matter the weather, we are working through the night to ensure that the ATCALS at Ramstein are ready for use.” 

Ramstein has the only CAT III (category III) runway in the command and the only military maintained CAT III in the Air Force. This system means the runway is a zero visibility auto-land system that requires additional checks to verify the system is performing as required.  To check the system, the ATCALS flight uses a specially-built test vehicle to drive the length of the runway multiple times with an antenna 12 meters in height to simulate an aircraft and ensure the signals are being brought directly down the centerline.

“With the 86th OSS’s hard work, aircraft can still safely operate in and out of Ramstein with low visibility,” Shephard said.

The talented Airmen in ATCALS flight play a key role in keeping the airfield open and working, taking part in any aircraft that lands, takes-off or crosses Ramstein’s airspace.

"The ATCALS team exemplifies the very best of the 86th Operations Group,” said Col. Gerald Donohue, 86th Operations Group commander. “As we approach winter, it’s inspiring to know that these Airmen will enthusiastically climb towers in snow and ice to return our systems to service.  I couldn't be more proud."