It’s 2:30 p.m. Monday, and the airport is quiet.
Communications specialist Gerald Noeske is sitting inside the communications hub at SRQ, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, staring at computer screens connected to 80 cameras. The cameras dart left, right and turn in circles to show every activity happening on the grounds.
One activity they show is the conveyer belt of suitcases once they are handed over by airline passengers to be loaded on the correct planes.
Operations Officer Lionel Guilbert walks through an office area and into a room where two TSA agents are waiting for bags to pass through. The bags make their way down the belt, through the X-ray computer, up a ramp and drop back down onto a baggage belt, before they are scanned and loaded onto a cart that will take them out to the appropriate aircrafts.
As Guilbert walks around the outside of the airport, he is constantly entering pass codes, swiping his badge and talking on the radio.
At the airport’s on-site fire station, garage doors open to reveal three all-terrain, six-wheel-drive trucks that spray both foam and water on the aircrafts and hold 3,000 gallons of each. The sharp probe on the end, called a “Snozzle,” can pierce through to the inside of an aircraft. (In case of an emergency, the probe could be used to cut open the aircraft.) The airport also has its own police station, home to a holding cell and lost and found.
Operations Officer Mike Schukraft starts his truck and drives out to the runway, where two aircraft await clearance for takeoff, then zoom by, just a few feet from where he’s standing.
It’s just another day at the airport.
BY THE NUMBERS
1,600 to 3,000 — number of people who fly at SRQ a day
29 — number of countries whose aircrafts have landed at SRQ
109 — number of airport employees
4 — number of major airlines that operate out of the airport
3 — number of baggage claim belts
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