Dense fog limits visibility and causes a mid-air collision between two airplanes operating on different frequencies. The accident occurs at the airport while one plane is taking off and the other is on final approach to land on the same runway. The local control tower is not yet open for daily service due a recent change in operating hours caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The above scenario is real, but the accident is fake. It's a mock emergency exercise scheduled to be conducted at the Waterloo Regional Airport Thursday afternoon.

The full-scale disaster drill is designed to test the Cedar Valley's combined resources for an emergency response to the airport in the event of an actual aircraft emergency. Airport staff will work together with Waterloo Airport Police and Fire personnel to coordinate response efforts, which will involve several area medical and emergency teams.

Both federal and local agencies will be involved in the disaster drill, testing their skills and operations. The Black Hawk County 911 Communications and Dispatch Center, local emergency management officials, area hospitals, Cedar Falls Public Safety officers, Black Hawk County sheriff's deputies, the Iowa State Patrol, and other mutual aid, fire and police departments are all planning participate in the exercise.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires local officials to stage a full-scale disaster event every three years. The three-hour drill is expected to begin around 3 PM.

““This exercise will continue to showcase the excellent working relationships developed over many years, on the emergency response efforts by all exercise participants that would respond to the airport in the event of a real-world airport emergency," Airport Director Keith Kaspari said. "As we all know, airport and aircraft emergencies can occur during any time of day and in all-weather conditions, so the better we train – the more effective we all collectively can be in providing an effective response to the airport for a wide range of airport emergency conditions.”

According to a press release, Waterloo Regional Airport officials are making every effort to inform the public of the exercise to prevent any undue concern that it might be a real airport emergency. The drill will not interfere with any scheduled flight departures or arrivals at the airport.

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