The ATC (Air Traffic Control) Division is responsible for the management and synchronization of aircraft in the air and is part of every IAF activity. Its people work around the clock in order to protect the Israeli skies and execute their operational duties. A peek into a night in the Northern ATC Unit
Shahar Zorani | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
Darkness has fallen over the Northern ATC Unit. The teams that have finished their work have already left for their rooms and in the Unit’s bunker on the peak of the mountain only a small group of Controllers and ATC Assistants remain in order to respond to anything that happens during the night. They man the stations and execute their duties the best way possible. “At night the younger controllers man the stations”, says Lt. Ido, a Controller in the Northern ATC Unit. “These are stations that during the day are manned by senior, high ranking controllers, but at night – all of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of a 20 year old”.
Guarding the Sky
The sun has set under the mountains and with it – the temperature has dropped, which reminds us that we are at the peak of the lofty Meron Mountain in early February. Even when everyone is asleep, the ATC Division’s servicemen and women’s duty does not stop. They must manage and synchronize the movement in the sky, execute discovery missions and make sure that no aircraft penetrates Israeli airspace.
“During the night, every person on the mountain sits at a station for about three hours on average”, shares SSGT. Shenhav Alvo, supervisor of all of the mandatory service soldiers in the ATC Unit.
“We must stay focused even though we worked all day, be attentive and alert and direct the aircraft safely to their destinations”, she says. CRPL. Maya Flusser, an ATC Assistant, clarifies. “During the night shift a small number of soldiers man the stations and guard the sky”.
A Second Family
The long nights may be a challenge for the Division servicemen and women, but also create the special atmosphere which characterizes the Unit. As a result of the many hours spent together working, tight nit relationships are created between the Unit’s personnel, which create a feeling of belonging and help those who serve in the Unit work better even in the middle of the night.
“At night, a small number of people stay on the mountain and there is a feeling of fraternity and concern”, shares SSGT. Shenhav. The nights in the unit are organized according to the shifts in the Northern ATC Unit, according to which the Controllers and the ATC Assistants are divided and each has its special traditions and pride. “The people in the shift with me are my best friends, like a second family. We work and live together, trust each other and have each other’s backs”.