Port of Seattle Gives National Office Replacement Piece of Seattle Tower Glass; Hopeful It Will Remain Intact
Thursday, September 29, 2011
The Port of Seattle, on Friday, Sept. 23, hosted a short ceremony to present NATCA with a replacement piece of glass from the old SEA Tower. Mark Coates, Senior Manager of Sea-Tac Airport Operations presented the replacement piece to NNM RVP Jim Ullmann (pictured below), who accepted the glass on NATCA’s behalf. Also present at the ceremony were SEA Fac Rep Isabel Cole and SEA controllers Debbie Hart and Bud Pangan. The ceremony received media attention from KOMO-TV.
During the ceremony, Coates told the controllers just how much the Port relies on them and knows they will perform their job, even in the face of a natural disaster. Ullmann then gave a short speech: “NATCA feels it [the piece of glass] stands as a reminder that 24 hours a day, during all situations, including natural disasters and attacks on our nation, the hard working men and women who safeguard our nation’s airspace system work to ensure that it remains the safest, most efficient and envied system in the world,” he said.
During the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the East Coast on August 23, a piece of the broken glass from the old SEA tower, damaged during the 2001 Nisqually quake and given to the National Office for display, fell and broke once more. NATCA Communications Director Doug Church sent a photo of the broken glass to several Seattle media outlets, receiving some coverage. When the Port of Seattle heard that the National Office’s piece of glass broke, they graciously offered to provide another.
Ten years ago, the SEA Tower members gave the National Office that original piece of glass as a memento of the Nisqually earthquake that heavily damaged the SEA Tower. Cole said that while the Nisqually earthquake did not do a great deal of damage to Washington state, it had a huge impact on the controllers of Seattle and Boeing Towers; they were in temporary towers for more than three months.
“When I tell people about the Port presenting us with a new piece of broken glass to replace our twice-broken piece of glass they are always confused,” she said. “But once I tell them the story that the memento piece of glass from SEA was the only thing that broke during the East Coast earthquake, I hear lots of comments about the hairs going up on the backs of people’s necks… It is just one of those types of Twilight Zone moments that makes everyone shake their heads,” she said.