Time magazine editors have named Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Antonio D. Travis to the 2010 Time 100, the magazine's annual list of the 100 most-influential people in the world, for his efforts after the Haiti earthquake.THAT is the America I know. Not bad for an Air Force guy; I bet he built a 3-par golf course too.
Travis was one of the first U.S. military members on the ground at the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, only 30 hours after the Jan. 12 earthquake and less than 12 hours after the nation's president requested U.S. assistance. The chief led a team of special tactics airmen from the 23rd, 21st and 123rd special tactics squadrons.
With his team of combat veterans, Travis led the largest single-runway operation in history, using hand-held radios to control thousands of aircraft. Their air traffic control tower was a card table set up next to the airport's runway.
"Twenty-eight minutes after touchdown, we controlled the first air landing followed immediately by a departure, and we did not slow down for the next 12 days," said Travis, who hails from Nelson County, Ky.
After establishing control of the airfield there, his team orchestrated an orderly flow for incoming aircraft and dealt with the constraints of the inadequate airfield, which potentially could have limited relief operations.
Facing 42 aircraft jammed into a parking ramp designed to accommodate 10 large planes and untangling the gridlock was the first of many seemingly insurmountable challenges necessary to facilitate the flood of inbound relief flights.
In the dawn of the U.S. response to the Haitian crisis, Travis coordinated with Miami-based Federal Aviation Administration officials via text messaging on his BlackBerry. His ingenuity paid massive dividends as priority aircraft transited the small airport, delivering lifesaving water, food and medical supplies in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development-led international humanitarian effort.
From chaos, Travis established order as his combat controllers reduced a four-hour hold time in the air on Day 1 to less than two hours on Day 2 and less than 15 minutes by Day 3.
For 12 days, 24-hours-a-day, the airfield team ran the international airport in Port-au-Prince. Together with more than 200 other airmen from Hurlburt Field, Fla., they tirelessly ensured the safe and effective control of more than 4,000 takeoffs and landings, an average of one aircraft operation every five minutes, and enabled the delivery of 4 million pounds of humanitarian relief to the people of Haiti.
Without computers or electricity, Travis and his team controlled as many as 250 aircraft daily, exceeding the normal capacity of the airfield by 1,400 percent without a single incident. By Jan. 25, his team was able to hand operations over to Air Force air traffic controllers with a portable control tower.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Chaos - yea, we can do that.