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Wichita Air Traffic Control Tower
When Goldstein initiated his own investigation of a landing aircraft’s report of foreign object debris (FOD) on runway 1L, doggedly and efficiently determining the source, it may have seemed like an extraordinary example of a controller going above the call of duty. But not to Goldstein’s fellow controllers in the tower, who have seen this from him before.
“Mark is a very conscientious air traffic controller,” says Patrick Pelkowski. “He is extremely experienced not only as a controller but as a pilot. This dual experience has helped Mark to make numerous suggestions to pilots in distress and help many controllers who needed assistance.”
After the FOD report was made to the tower, controllers instructed a Wichita Airport Authority vehicle to inspect the runway and remove the FOD. The vehicle found parts of an aircraft tire and a white aircraft gear door. Upon hearing this, Goldstein asked the vehicle driver to bring the gear door to the base of the tower so he could view it with binoculars from the tower cab. Because he is a pilot, he was hopeful he’d be able to tell what kind of aircraft the door belonged to.
After examination, Goldstein determined it probably belonged to a regional jet and began calling the companies at the airport that fly this type of aircraft. When he talked to officials at Atlantic Southeast Airlines, they determined that their aircraft had white gear doors and that one of their flights had taken off for Atlanta just shortly before the FOD was discovered on the runway.
Mystery solved. But now there was the urgent need to get word to pilots of the flight about their damaged aircraft.
Goldstein called the Kansas City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZKC) watch supervisor’s desk and asked them to contact the Atlantic Southeast Flight (CAA177) and advise them of the situation. The ZKC traffic management unit contacted the company and also relayed the information to the pilot through the assistance of Memphis Center, whose airspace the aircraft had entered by this point.
The pilot indicated that he was not aware of any problems with his flight. But as a precaution, the flight declared an emergency and, fortunately, safely landed in Atlanta. During a post-flight inspection, the airline discovered the plane had blown a tire, was missing a gear door and suffered damage to a wing flap.
Goldstein’s work earned him recognition from Federal Aviation Administration officials in Wichita, who wrote: “Mr Goldstein’s professionalism and willingness to go above and beyond reflect credit upon him and exemplify the highest of aviation service.”
Pelkowski says the recognition is well deserved and long awaited.
“Mark is always focused on his work and it shows as he is one of the most efficient air traffic controllers I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” Pelkowski stated. “We’re happy to be able to recognize Mark for his career-long dedication to maintaining the safety of the flying public.”