NATCA Members Reflect on Seattle Earthquake
Thursday, March 03, 2011
NATCA last Monday remembered the Seattle earthquake of Feb. 28, 2001, and made a couple of its SEA members available to the Seattle media for interviews looking back upon that unique day in our National Airspace System history. Three interviews were conducted, with television stations KIRO, KOMO and Fox13.
NATCA member Debbie Hart had a harrowing story to tell about her experience in the tower cab at SEA as the ceiling came literally crashing down upon her head while she was working as a supervisor. Debbie was the last one to leave the tower after helping another controller clear the airspace and halt all departures until damage could be assessed. It was Debbie who determined that all activity on the runway should stop immediately until the surface could be examined for any cracks, holes or other damage. Within an hour of the quake, Debbie joined the other controllers in taking cell phones and other portable communications gear down to the tarmac where they reopened operations and got aircraft moving again.
A second controller in the tower at the time of the event, Bud Pangan, was working ground control at the time of the quake and sought shelter under the console as debris came raining down and the windows of the tower cab shattered.
NATCA-represented engineers also rose to the occasion. Within a day of the quake, engineers had a temporary air traffic control tower fully operational, even perched atop a shipping container to give controllers a better view of the runways and airport surface. Don Schmeichel was one of the lead NATCA engineers on the project. A special article about this part of the earthquake story will be printed in the upcoming winter issue of the Air Traffic Controller quarterly newsletter.
Above (left to right): Greg Smith (SEA AT VP at the time--since retired),
Larry Lewis, ENM member (resigned from FAA), Brian Schimpf (SEA
AT President at the time, no longer NATCA member), Don Schmeichel (ENM
ATO Engineers Chapter VP and electronics engineer), Curt Howe, PE (civil
engineer and still ENM President), Joe Peterson (ENM electronics engineer), Jon
Ikeda, PE (ENM civil engineer) and Hal Snyder (ENM electronics engineer).
To view coverage from KOMO-TV, please see the following: