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