KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – A team of air traffic controllers is welcomed back to Kingsley Field following a tour of duty in Iraq.
A crowd of over 100 welcomed the safe return of 14 men and 1 woman of the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron.
The airmen returned after serving 6 months at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq.
“It would get to about 125 in the day, still stay about 95 to 100 degrees at night,” recalled Oregon Air National Guard Staff Sergeant Brent Ardolino. “You had to avoid scorpions, snakes, things like that.”
Major General Michael Stencel noted the 270th provided air traffic control to a “complex airspace in an unfriendly environment.”
Staff Sergeant Brock Perry of the Oregon Air National Guard offered a brief description of the mission: “Keeping planes separated, making sure nobody hits – trying to keep everybody safe and expeditious throughout the airspace.”
The airmen we spoke with say they’re very appreciative of the reception home.
“It’s a great feeling,” Staff Sergeant Ardolino said. “I know Klamath loves its military members, and it’s just nice being recognized in front of them.”
The unit specializes in mobile air traffic control.
One of their more unusual assignments was monitoring the flight of Keiko the whale from Mexico City to Newport, Oregon in 1996.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.
He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.
“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.
When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.