1997  |  1998  |  1999  |  2000  |  2001  |  2002  |  2003  |  2004  |  2005  |  2006  |  2007  |  2008  |  2009  |  2010  |  2011  |  2012  |  2013  |  2014  |  2015

Courageous, Determined Effort to Fix Hurricane Damage to Pensacola TRACON Results in Its Quick Reopening - (10/15/2004)

CONTACT: Cliff Murdock, 850-293-3240

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Less than a month after Hurricane Ivan ravaged the far western Florida Panhandle region, tearing the roof off the Pensacola Terminal Radar Approach Control facility and drenching computers, radar scopes and communications equipment, a team of air traffic controllers, technicians, airways facilities and other Federal Aviation Administration employees have restored the TRACON to near full operational status.

The TRACON reopened last week – just 20 days after Ivan’s landfall – with nine of its 12 radar scopes back up and running, inside a building outfitted with a new roof and a handful of other repairs.

“I am sure salt water intrusion is not included in the equipment warranties,” joked controller Cliff Murdock, who also is the facility representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Murdock, who spent the night of the storm inside the facility with his wife and children and several other employees – and worked to secure windows and doors that helped prevent further damage – has tried to maintain an upbeat attitude and sense of humor to help get through a difficult stretch of days.

“It’s amazing,” he added. “Our local airways facilities personnel worked 24/7 to ensure that our equipment was restored to operational condition. Now, we are working traffic again, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., temporarily, to allow the contractors to finish renovating the radar room. Soon, we’ll be back to providing service 24 hours a day.”

NATCA Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin, who along with NATCA President John Carr toured the facility and Pensacola community earlier this month, praised Murdock for serving a key role on the team that repaired air traffic services, but, more importantly, lives and spirits. “We have controllers down there that, like so many others, tragically, have lost homes. Cliff and a team of NATCA members provided generators and supplies, was part of a truly remarkable team effort to repair a major air traffic control facility in the Gulf Coast region, and also had to take care of his own personal family issues. We salute the courage and the determination of our members down there and keep the residents of the hurricane-ravaged communities in Florida in our thoughts.”

During the reconstruction period, Murdock said TRACON controllers worked a two-position operation using an extra radar scope up in the Pensacola Regional Airport control tower.

“The tower folks were generous, patient hosts,” Murdock stated. “We invaded their tower cab. But if there is one silver lining from the storm, it is that our controllers and the tower controllers were forced to work together in confined quarters for an extended period of time. It was a very rewarding experience.”

Show All News Headlines