Dutch air traffic controllers visit AF base

Aircrew members and two Dutch air traffic controllers pose for a photo, Nov. 14, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The Dutchmen visited McConnell to familiarize themselves with air refueling and other aircraft maneuvers in order to improve communication and better assist U.S. forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class David Bernal Del Agua)

Aircrew members and two Dutch air traffic controllers pose for a photo, Nov. 14, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The Dutchmen visited McConnell to familiarize themselves with air refueling and other aircraft maneuvers in order to improve communication and better assist U.S. forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class David Bernal Del Agua)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Dutch air traffic controllers visited McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 13-14, to observe take-offs, landings, and air refueling missions to improve service to U.S. aircrews.

The visit helped the controllers gain a better understanding of air refueling missions. This will allow them to provide better communication between aircrews and Dutch controllers in the future.

"The reason we are here is because we wanted to see the other side of flights," said Dutch Capt. Joris Termorshuizen, air traffic controller. "As air traffic controllers we don't know what is happening inside of the aircraft, and this visit gave us the opportunity to see that in action."

The visitors experienced what goes on midair while the controllers on the ground are trying to get a clear picture of the situation.

"We don't hear it on the ground, but the crews talk a lot while midflight," said Dutch Sgt. Maj. Jetze de Vries, air traffic controller. "It makes more sense now that we know what they're doing. We won't be impatient when we don't receive a reply because we know they have to talk to each other."

This insight gained will assist the integration of U.S. forces into the Dutch airspace, as well as develop Dutch air refueling procedures within confined airspace to better assist U.S. troops.

"We wanted to see what was going on up there, that was the main objective of our trip here," said Termorshuizen. "The crew communicated well with each other, while at the same time making on-the-spot corrections if something could be done better. That is something we can improve on our side."

Termorshuizen and de Vries now go back to the Netherlands to spread what they learned on their visit to McConnell.

"We are very grateful to the Air Force and the units that welcomed us into their aircraft," said Termorshuizen. "We will definitely put this knowledge to good use so the U.S. and the Netherlands can continue to improve their relationship."