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NATCA Mourns Tragic Loss of Mark Haskell; Portland, Maine, Veteran Controller was Husband, Father, Pilot - (7/18/2010)

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association today is mourning the death of Portland, Maine, veteran air traffic controller and experienced pilot Mark Haskell, a NATCA member since 1991, who was killed on Saturday along with one other man, reported as Thomas Casagrande, when Mark’s single-engine, two-seat plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Portland International Jetport. Mark was 42.

“Mark’s death in this terrible accident leaves all of us who knew him and his deep love of aviation very shocked and saddened,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “We extend our deepest sympathies to Mark’s wife, Alison, his children, all of his family and friends, and his NATCA brothers and sisters at Portland Tower and TRACON, where he was loved and admired for his leadership, warm demeanor and sense of humor. We also extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Casagrande. We grieve with all of them today on their tragic loss.”

Mark spent his entire 19-year FAA career as an air traffic controller at Portland (PWM). He also served as the NATCA facility representative from 2008-2009. Mark and his family lived in Brunswick, Maine.

"Mark was a dedicated controller and, during his time as the facility representative of the Portland facility, leader as well. He always gave everything he had to every situation,” NATCA New England Regional Vice President Mike Robicheau said. “Mark was a true aviation enthusiast and worked hard to improve everything about the safety and effectiveness of the aviation system in Maine, from the airspace to the equipment.”

Current PWM NATCA Facility Representative Shaun Patten, who has been at PWM for three years, said because of the size of the facility – 20 controllers – everyone knew Mark well and is feeling a tremendous sense of loss.

“He was just the nicest guy,” Patten said. “His smile greeted you every time you saw him. Not only was he a very dedicated and talented controller – very good at his job – he took new controllers under his wing and helped them out. Mark also had a great sense of humor. No matter how busy it got, he always had his sense of humor going and
that set such an example for all of us.”

Mark’s aircraft was a Yakovlev Yak-52. According to a web site he set up (http://maineyak.net/), the
plane was purchased from the Romanian Air Force by Mark and his wife in 2001 and was named “Lizzy-Lou” in honor of their daughter, Elizabeth Louise, who was born on the day they signed the contract.

“Mark took several controllers up in his plane. He always got people involved and loved to teach the new guys about it,” Patten said. “Mark was very active in putting together air shows and did all of the Brunswick and Portland shows in his plane. His plane was unique and very easy to find at the airport.”

According to the web site, Mark’s plane was “based primarily out of Auburn / Lewiston and
Portland, Maine airports (and) she now flies to honor our vets past and present. The rear fuselage markings honor Warren H. Haskell, who served in the Army Amphibian Corps of Engineers in the South Pacific in WW-II.”

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