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Keeping the airspace clear

(Left to right) Tech. Sgt. Jared Smith, Master Sgt. Brent Bixby, and Master Sgt. Christina Ericson from the 182nd Airlift Wing's Airfield Management office document the calculations needed to determine the maximum allowable height of a communications antenna placed on the airfield at the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport in Peoria, Ill. Feb. 7, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo  by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton)

(Left to right) Tech. Sgt. Jared Smith, Master Sgt. Brent Bixby, and Master Sgt. Christina Ericson from the 182nd Airlift Wing's Airfield Management office document the calculations needed to determine the maximum allowable height of a communications antenna placed on the airfield at the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport in Peoria, Ill. Feb. 7, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton)

Master Sgt. Christina Ericson and Master Sgt. Brent Bixby from the 182nd Airlift Wing's Airfield Management office use a laser range finder and binoculars from the runway centerline to take the measurement of a communications antenna placed on the airfield of the General Wayne A. Downing International Airport in Peoria, Ill. Feb. 7, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo  by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton)

Master Sgt. Christina Ericson and Master Sgt. Brent Bixby from the 182nd Airlift Wing's Airfield Management office use a laser range finder and binoculars from the runway centerline to take the measurement of a communications antenna placed on the airfield of the General Wayne A. Downing International Airport in Peoria, Ill. Feb. 7, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton)

PEORIA, Ill. -- Sometimes the location you need to place communications equipment isn't exactly the desired area you had in mind. If you have no choice but to set up shop on an airfield, penetrating the navigable airspace could mean trouble for both aircraft and ground structures.

The Airfield Management section of the 182nd Operations Support Squadron in Peoria, Ill. was charged with determining the safest location for the 168th Air Support Operations Squadron to establish a communications vehicle with its associated antenna within the airfield of the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport.

"We had to first go to the site of the equipment and calculate the ground elevation," said Master Sgt. Brent Bixby, an airfield manager at the 182nd OSS. "Next we had to calculate the height of the object." 

After obtaining permission from the air traffic controller in the tower, Bixby, along with Deputy Airfield Manager Master Sgt. Christina Ericson and NCO in Charge of Airfield Management Training Tech. Sgt. Jared Smith, drive the Runway Supervisor Unit pickup truck to the nearest runway runway centerline and calculate the distance to the object and the runway centerline elevation.

"The first imaginary surface extends from the runway centerline 1,000 feet for Air Force installations and 500 feet for [Federal Aviation Administration] installations, so yes, we must know both DoD and FAA rules," Bixby said. "This is called the primary surface. We determined the site was in the next imaginary surface being the transitional slope. This surface starts at ground level and extends diagonally for another 2,050 feet from runway centerline."

The team determined via their laser range finder that the antenna was within the transitional slope. Now they can execute their calculations. The actual height of the antenna cannot exceed the allowable height. They needed to determine if the antenna would penetrate the transitional surface.

"Upon completion of our calculations we indeed determined the antenna could be extend to its maximum height without causing a surface violation," Bixby said.

Bixby, Ericson and Smith could now return to the squadron operations building and inform the 168th ASOS that they were now able to operate the communications site without posing a danger to air traffic on the airfield.