Controller Kudos

By Robert Mark on March 23rd, 2010

archieOK, I have to admit that occasionally Scott and I say a few things that upset folks, but only to pilots and air traffic controllers. Almost everyone else is safe … for now.

But along with the ability to lob criticism on people and topics that we believe sometimes need a good swift kick in the pants, there comes a time to acknowledge the roles some of those same aviation professionals play when they go above and beyond. Such is today, now that the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) last night awarded a number of U.S. controllers the Archie League Medals of Safety at the association’s 6th annual ceremony in Orlando.

Controllers call these above and beyond events “saves,” as in an almost guaranteed loss of life had they not been their to help. NATCA explains the way controllers are measured for the award this way. “Air traffic controllers juggle a variety of variables and complex scenarios. Their ability to adapt to ever-changing situations while keeping their composure is a skill they have mastered. As a result of their commitment to perfection, our aviation is the safest in the world.”

The range of situations for which these controllers were given a huge pat on the back are wide and varied like the trainee controller at Dallas that was actually taking a certification checkride – yeah, controllers call them the same thing when they’re trying to prove they’re ready to run on their own. Or the Southern California TRACON (SOCAL) controller who pointed out a non-transponder equipped, single-engine airplane to an airline crew that had to dive to get out of the way since the small aircraft did not appear on the airliner’s TCAS system.

Listening to the audio of the Southern Region award winners who helped a relatively inexperienced pilot land a King Air after the captain died in mid-flight is simply awe-inspiring. Listen to part two of that astounding save here. Doug White’s – the pilot – acceptance remarks from the union for his flying efforts is also a priceless ten minutes of gratitude from a man who almost lost his life. It should be up on the union’s web site very soon.

Please join us at Jetwhine as we salute these controllers and all who make keeping us pilots from running into other aircraft look easy. Nice job folks.

Rob Mark, editor

The Archie Award winners are listed here by region.

ALASKAN REGION: Todd Lamb (Anchorage Center) and Michael Evans (Fairbanks Flight Service Station)

CENTRAL REGION: Jessica Hermsdorfer, Kansas City Tower / TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control)

EASTERN REGION: Louis Ridley, Potomac TRACON

GREAT LAKES REGION: Kristin Danninger, Madison, Wisc., Tower / TRACON

NEW ENGLAND REGION: Kevin Plante and Christopher Presley, Portland, Maine

NORTHWEST MOUNTAIN REGION: Troy Decker, Salt Lake Center

SOUTHERN REGION: Jessica Anaya (Miami Center), Dan Favio (Fort Myers, Fla.), Lisa Grimm (Miami Center), Nathan Henkels (Miami Center), Carey Meadows (Fort Myers), Brian Norton (Fort Myers)

SOUTHWEST REGION: Natasha Hodge and Douglas Wynkoop, Dallas/Fort Worth TRACON

WESTERN PACIFIC REGION: Ron Chappell, Southern California TRACON

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7 Responses to “Controller Kudos”

  1. Elaine Poe Says:

    Rob, just a tiny quibble [where’s the microscope I’m splitting this hair with?]: It was the 6th annual Archie League Awards presentation. It was previously associated with NATCA’s lobby week in Washington, DC. It was subsequently moved to be in conjunction with the Communicating For Safety conference, which has been an annual venture for ten years or more. Next year’s conference will be in Las Vegas. Look for info on getting involved!

  2. Robert Mark Says:

    Splitting a few hairs is a good idea when it comes from you guys Elaine. Kind of like who you decide flies the localizer inbound first and who follows.

    Consider that little item corrected.


  3. Max Trescott Says:

    Rob, Thanks for helping give controllers some of the attention they deserve. Yes, we all pick on them occasionally. But, like family, that means we love them!

  4. Robert Mark Says:

    … “means we love them.” Good point. Wonder if my friends at NATCA are reading this.

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