JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
The 502nd Operational Support Squadron provides every aircraft that comes through Joint Base San Antonio-Kelly Field with world class support services including: airfield management services, air traffic control, weather forecasting and warning services, operations scheduling, and flight records management.
“The 502nd OSS handles all of the logistical movement in and out this field,” said Master Sgt. Adam White, 502nd OSS superintendent. “It's a massive task here because this airfield is a major hub for a lot of different economic, contingency, and training operations.”
As a joint-use airfield, JBSA-Kelly Field supports a broad-spectrum of both military and civilian operations. This includes the 149th Fighter Wing, which trains F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots, and the 433rd Airlift Wing, which trains C-5 Galaxy pilots and provides logistical support. The civilian operations include flight schools, delivery services, medical transport services and maintenance centers.
“One of the most important missions here is pilot training,” White said. “The Air Force really needs pilots, so the military operations here are essential to the force right now. We also support contingency operations like the hurricane relief efforts last year, as well as multiple civilian sector operations.”
Without the 502nd OSS, none of these missions would be possible.
“We have our hands in everything from scheduling to clearing the airfield of debris to forecasting the weather,” said White.
The different flights of the OSS can be broken down into base operations, air traffic control, weather, and host aviation resource management, or HARM.
“Base ops is the centralized hub for all the flight plans,” said White. “They have information on all the flights coming in and out, and are essential for planning operations. They’re also responsible for notifications. For example, if a distinguished visitor is coming in, they have to let the appropriate commanders know if they need to come greet them or if any other accommodations are necessary.”
Base operations also keeps the airfield clear of potentially harmful debris and ensures the lighting equipment on the runway is functioning properly.
In addition to base operations, the weather office is also instrumental in operational planning, said White.
“It doesn’t take much to figure out what the weather office does,” White said. “They provide important weather forecasts for operational planning. If there's a storm coming in or pilot visibility is going be affected in some way, the weather shop will ensure we’re prepared.”
Equally important to the previous to units is air traffic control, White said.
“Our air traffic controllers are responsible for coordinating the movement of every aircraft within a five-mile radius of the airfield,” White said. “They are responsible for maintaining a certain amount of space between individual aircraft in the air and on the ground. They’re in constant contact with the aircraft in our airspace to make sure everyone knows where to go and how to get there safely.”
Last, but not least, is the HARM office; they track records for all flight personnel on JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Camp Bullis.
“Without accurate records of each aircrew member's current qualifications and physical restrictions, it would be impossible to determine which crew member is able to reliably carry out the mission,” White said.
While the 502nd OSS has a lot on its collective plate, the Airmen are prepared for anything they might face, said Lt. Col. Benjamin Mather, 502nd OSS commander.
“Kelly airfield is a unique challenge,” Mather said. “There’s so much that goes into maintaining a joint-use airfield, but our service members rise to the challenge every day. Their individual brilliance and exceptional teamwork makes this all possible.”