By Reggie Jarrett

Editor, Jax Air News

For eight days from Sept. 12-20, Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville handled air operations for flights in and out of NAS Key West when they were shut down after Hurricane Irma. 

"We tracked all the flights going in and out of Key West," said Lt. Erik Peterson of NAS Jax Air Ops. "We stepped up for them when they were down." 

Air operations consisted of tracking aircraft in the air traffic control tower to handling the prior permission required (PPR) for each aircraft.

PPR is the flight information, which includes the type of aircraft, estimated times of arrival and departures, the number of passengers and the cargo on each flight.

Tower  chief John Stranahan said that NAS Jacksonville handled 36 aircraft heading to and from Key West during the eight days.

This consisted of coordinating more than 500,000 pounds of cargo, providing 145,000 pounds of fuel to transit aircraft and receiving 282 passengers.

This was in addition to handling normal flight operations for the base.

Most of the flights to Key West were bringing supplies, such as food and water, as well as support personnel to assist the hurricane-damaged island.

"The flights also included two Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) planes and 22 search and rescue personnel," said Stranahan.

The  Key West-bound aircraft tracked by NAS Jacksonville included C-40 Clippers, C-17 Globemasters and C-130 Hercules.

"I think everything went fantastic," said Peterson. "We responded immediately when called upon and it allowed them to get all hands on deck to get their base up and operational."