Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield (WSAAF)

The Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield consists of four branches – Air Traffic Control, Air Traffic Control Maintenance, Airfield Operations, and Airfield Safety – to support the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and other military forces mobilizing and training at Fort Drum as they prepare for worldwide contingency operations and other assigned missions.


Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield Division Chief: (315) 772-4480


Air Traffic Control

Hours of Operation:

24 hours a day, 7 days a week


Air Traffic Control Branch Manager: (315) 772-3400


The ATC mission is to support the Power Projection Platform at Fort Drum and Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield (WSAAF) in primary support of the 10th Mountain Division (LI). Additional ATC support is provided to other active military components, reserve components, and federal agencies, specifically the Air National Guard, Air Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and numerous Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers. A near full-time presence is maintained on WSAAF by the 174th Attack Wing, Air National Guard, which provides a forward operating location in direct support of air-to-ground gunnery at Range 48.

The key role of the Wheeler-Sack ATC is to integrate the routine flight activity with support and training missions, integrate the mixes of aircraft and airspace, segregate participating from non-participating aircraft (normally military from civilian), and eliminate delays encountered by instrument flight rules, aircraft to and from both Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield and Watertown International Airport. The ATC functions and services provided to all users ensure that all missions are supported. The support includes the ability to provide continuous services and training, any time of day or night, in all weather conditions, to all aviation assets.


There are three primary ATC functions performed at Fort Drum in support of the aviation activities:


  • Army Radar Approach Control (ARAC): Provides separation, sequencing, and advisories to aircraft in an area that encompasses approximately a 40-nautical-mile radius of Fort Drum and up to 10,000 feet MSL (mean sea level). The ARAC was commissioned specifically to support the unique flight activity at Fort Drum and the Fort Drum airspace complex. No other ATC facility was prepared or able to provide the services that Fort Drum requires.

  • Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT): The ATCT provides ATC services to all aircraft operating to, from, and about Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. The airspace responsibility consists of approximately a 5 NM radius of WSAAF and from the surface up to 3,200 MSL. Complexity and unique factors are the close proximity of the restricted area to the airfield, the required coordination that allows aircraft to smoothly and safely transition between the airfield and the restricted area, and the mix of aircraft types that use the airfield and restricted areas.

  • Airspace Information Center (AIC): The AIC provides ATC support to any aviator who flies within the boundaries of R-5201 (restricted area). The Aircraft Flight Following Services (AFFS) operation, in conjunction with Range Control, ARAC, and the ATCT, allows maximum utilization and simultaneous air, ground, and artillery operations. The restricted area is extremely congested and aggressively used by artillery, tank, small arms, ground maneuver, jet and helicopter air-to-ground operations as well as low helicopter flight level training. The AFFS provides safety advisories as well as locations and status of other training and then de-conflicts all of the above. The AFFS operation is located in the ARAC facility and uses the ARAC radar; the ability to conduct direct and immediate coordination with the ARAC and Tower controllers enhances the safety within the entire aviation area and provides seamless transitions from airspace to airspace. Other enhancements provided by the AFFS are the Air Traffic and Airspace Command and Control (A2C2) support to the numerous exercises that are conducted in the restricted area (R-5201).


Air Traffic Control Maintenance

Hours of Operation:

6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday


Air Traffic Control Maintenance Branch Manager: (315) 772-6147


Provides technical expertise to ensure that the Navigational Aids, Communications / Data Equipment and all other devices that support the air traffic control mission of Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield are maintained and certified at or above the mandatory U.S. Army and Federal Aviation Administration specifications.


Airfield Operations

Hours of Operation:

7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday


Airfield Operations Branch Manager: (315) 772-7997


WSAAF Operations personnel provide services for assigned and transient aircraft, which include: Notice-to-Airmen services, flight planning facilities, maintaining an Operations Flight Dispatch Section, monitoring navigational aids, communicating with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) components and other concerned parties to ensure flight plans are properly transmitted, and providing capabilities for pilot weather briefings. Personnel conduct inspections of and report deficiencies on airfield lighting, signage, markings, pavements, obstructions, bird and wildlife conditions, airfield security, etc. Finally, WSAAF Operations provides Petroleum-Oil-Lubricants / Transient Alert capability services to all transient aircraft operating into or out of Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. Services include, but may not be limited to, block-in / block-out services, aircraft refueling, Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) support, and de-icing operations.


Aviation Safety

Hours of Operation:

7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday


Aviation Safety Program Manager: (315) 772-6118


The Aviation Safety Program manager provides technical advice to the airfield manager and staff, aviation unit commanders and individual aviators regarding aviation safety policies, practices and procedures; conducts accident investigations and identifies accident trends for mitigation of future occurrences; and assesses daily flight and ground operations to identify and mitigate risks to human and material resources.