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Transcript: Southwest Region Winners of 2020 Archie League Medal of Safety Award

Pilot:  Center, this is [Inaudible] 550080; we’re declaring an emergency. We’ve lost our engine.

Controller:  5500 Juliette Kilo, Roger; let me get an airport for you.

Pilot:  Thank you.

Controller:  5500 Juliette Kilo, I’m showing at your one o’clock and about twenty-two miles is Harrison Field. It’s got 3,200 feet hard surface. That might be your closest option right now.

Pilot:  [Inaudible]; we’re doing that. Thank you. Can you give me the identifier?

Controller:  It should be Foxtrot 75.

***

Doug Church:  That’s the voice of Pilot and Flight Instructor Anise Shapiro.

Hello and welcome to the NATCA Podcast. I’m Doug Church, Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the National Air Traffic Air Controllers Association.

This is the story of one our two 2020 Archie League Medal of Safety Award Winning Events from Forth Worth Center in the Southwest Region.

Today is part one of the story, told from the perspective of Air Traffic Controllers Larry Bell, Brian Cox, and Colin McKinnon. Part two of the story will be on our next podcast and is an interview with Anise Shapiro.

Anise and her student Jouni Uusitalo were flying his Piper PA 46 Malibu on a Saturday last spring from Hereford Municipal Airport, southwest of Amarillo, Texas to Graham Municipal Airport, 80 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Texas.

Halfway into the nearly 75-minute flight, they lost the engine, for the first time in Shapiro’s 23 years of flying. At 14,500 feet and needing quick action, she declared an emergency to Fort Worth Center, and Brian Cox received the call.

Brian asked Anise the standard air emergency questions of how many souls were onboard and how much fuel was remaining. She responded, quote, we have two souls, and we have two female pups, and four puppies, end quote.

Brian is a 22-year veteran who has also worked at Kansas City Center and Denver Center. He knew this would be no ordinary day on position. Here’s my conversation with Larry, Brian, and Colin.

***

Doug Church:  I think what I want to do is to introduce our listeners to each of you, Larry, Brian, and Colin. We’ll go in that order. Larry let’s start with you. You entered the FAA in 2012. You’ve been at Fort Worth Center your whole career. Is that correct?

Larry Bell:  Yes; that’s correct.

Doug Church:  Yeah; tell us about your career and your background and how you came into the profession of Air Traffic Control.

Larry Bell:  Sure; yeah, I was an accountant before that, so I had no aviation or experience or anything like that. And then when my mom remarried, her new mother-in-law, or new sister-in-law had a career in the FAA, and was a Controller in Little Rock and Amarillo and Lubbock and then went to the Region in Atlanta. So, that’s how I got involved.

And I applied and then I got it, so, that was interesting. And went to Oak City, went through that, and then went through the training process here in Fort Worth Center, took about three years, certified, like within three years, and then yeah, then been a Controller the last five years. Actually, became the Louis Area Rep two years ago, so I’ve been doing that the last two years. So, it’s been an interesting two years to be an Area Representative with the shutdown and COVID and all that.

So, I’ve definitely experienced a lot the last few years.

Doug Church:  Absolutely. And Brian, you’ve been in the FAA since ’98, started at Denver Center, and then transferred to Fort Worth Center in 2012. Do I have that correct?

Brian Cox:  It’s close. I actually started in Kansas City in ’98. And I was there for four years and then to Denver for I want to say ten, and then I’ve been here almost eight years now. Yeah; yeah, that sounds about right.

Doug Church:  Excellent; okay. And tell me about your background and your interest in the profession, how you found this career.

Brian Cox:  It actually started pretty early on. My parents actually. I was born in Oregon. They lived in Portland, but they actually moved when I was four. And they moved up to Everett, Washington, which is where Boeing builds their big jets. And basically, they still live about a mile and a half from the end of–I think it’s 17, right, so we can still see the big jets coming in from when we go visit my parents, so that kind of started my love of aviation.

Moved to Texas and lived over in Euless, which was still pretty close to Dallas Fort Worth, and actually my grandfather had been in the FAA since the–I want to say the mid-‘50s and he started in flight service I believe in Tucumcari, and then I want to say I think he became a Controller; it was in San Juan is where he became a Controller. Transferred back to Memphis for a little while and then he actually ended his career out of Fort Worth Center. I believe it was in the early ‘70s, like maybe ’71, ’72 when he actually retired. So, that’s kind of my background.

And then I had a couple of friends whose dads actually worked as supervisors out here at DFW in the–I guess in the ‘90s, so I kind of had a little connection there, too.

Doug Church:  That’s very interesting. Back when the facility was somewhat new [Laughs]

Brian Cox:  Yeah.

Doug Church:  –and not 60 years old.

Brian Cox:  Yeah. [Laughs]

Doug Church:  Well, thank you for that. And Colin, tell us about yourself. You’ve also spent your entire career, seven years now in the Fort Worth Center. Is that also correct?

Colin McKinnon:  Yeah; that’s correct.

Doug Church:  So, coming out of the Academy and going to Fort Worth Center, tell us about how you made your decision to pursue this as a career.

Colin McKinnon:  Well, I started really doing flying. That was where I–you know I’ve always wanted to fly from when I was little, like a lot of Pilots. And then, going through college with all the airlines going bankrupt, I decided to look at the backup plans and this became the primary plan through years of change. So, and this worked out and I’m very happy and very lucky to be at Fort Worth for my whole career, as I’m sure most people there will tell you. I think we have it pretty good there, so it’s worked out pretty good so far.

Doug Church:  Let’s talk about your airspace. Let’s talk about this particular area and your airspace jurisdiction that you’re responsible for. Kind of set the–the map as it were, set the–set the–the tone and the facility as to what you’re responsible for in your shift and–and certain what–how it was like to work–because this happened obviously three months into the pandemic in June, what was that like? So, I’ll leave that up to you all to answer that.

Larry Bell:  This is Larry. I can kind of dive into that. We work in the northwest corner of Fort Worth Center, so we get the mainstream of arrivals from the West Coast from–for DFW and Dallas Love. And we’re a big sequencing area, but we also are big in the Military. We have several air–Air Force Bases that we cover, Shepherd Air Force Base being the big one. They fly west-overs in Wichita, [Mo], and that area.

We also have Altus, Fort Zill, advance approach, so a lot of Military going in and out. On this particular day, it was a Saturday, so, we didn’t have that going on, but–and we were kind of combined up because it was the pandemic, and it was a little bit slower. Things were starting to pick up at that time, but it–for–on this particular day it wasn’t too busy.

So, we did have the Oak City high sector combined up with the low sector since there wasn’t any Military going on. And that–but on a weekday it would be pretty busy in that low sector with all the Military flying.

Doug Church:  So, let’s go ahead and set the stage for what transpired here on this particular day. We’re talking about a PA-46, southeast from the northwest; is that correct?

Brian Cox:  Yes.

Doug Church:  And the destination airport was Graham Municipal Airport, located–how about–how many miles northwest of Fort Worth would you say Graham is?

Brian Cox:  This is Brian.  It’s, I don’t know, maybe 80 to 100 miles west of Dallas Fort Worth.

Doug Church:  And the call comes in and she declares an emergency. I was immediately struck by how calm she was in doing so [Laughs] and–and also how calm you were on the other end and handling that right away. The essence of–was truly exceptional professionalism in the face of such a critical situation that was developing. Can you talk about what happened from that point initially when the came in, and Brian, you’re working the position, and the one that we heard initially on the radio? Let’s start with you and then take us through when you first got that call.

Brian Cox:  Yeah; I first got the call, her calmness, yeah, you’re right. I–she, you know engine out, she said she was engine out, and I realized it was a PA-46. She’s only got one, so, yeah, the fact she was as calm as she was probably helped me stay calm. I mean it was–the way she just–you know the way she was able to give us information and then take information from us, it was-she was  pretty calm for flying  an overweight glider. So, it was;  the way that she acted as the Pilot on command was really phenomenal how–how easy she made it work. She was just–she went right down her checklist whatnot and whatever that she needed to do.

When she first called in on the emergency and said she didn’t have an engine I was just–the first thing I was trying to do was all right, where is the nearest airport, because unfortunately where she was at, it was-it’s kind of in a spot where–a little bit east of Lubbock there where there’s not a whole lot of airports.

And really, I just gave her a–I believe it was–I don’t know if I gave her a direct heading, but I told her Knox City was–I think it was at maybe like her one o’clock and like 25 miles. I haven’t listened to the tapes in quite a while. But I just–I said hey, this is probably your closest airport, and I gave her–I think I gave her the–the hard surface length and then the direction of the runway, and just started getting information from that point, you know how many people onboard, and you know–

Doug Church:  Real quick before you continue, because when she initially reported and you asked how many souls onboard and she said two souls, four dogs–

Brian Cox:  Yeah. [Laughs]

Doug Church:  What–did that strike you at all as like oh, this is different? [Laughs]

00:10:46

Brian Cox:  Maybe not different, but it’s–again, it was–it’s more of you know realizing how–how calm she was in the face of the actual situation because she obviously–I’m guessing probably before she even talked to me, she probably tried to restart the engine before she called an emergency in and was unsuccessful. And to realize that hey, you know I may not be able to get this restarted again it was–it just kind of–I don’t know; it was–it kind of helped move the situation along where to was oh, it’s a little bit of relief, almost a little bit of humor, you know which was, I think probably helpful for everybody.

Doug Church:  Start with Larry and then Colin about then how you’re brought into this and how you were made aware of this when the emergency comes in and kind of take us through how that–how then you three became a team to handle this.

Larry Bell:  Yeah; this is Larry. I was working the Controller in Charge position. We didn’t have a supervisor that day, so I was in charge of the area at the time. So, yeah, just–it was a normal lunchtime and then Brian, you know said he had an emergency there on his sector. So, that’s when we kind of started getting involved and trying to figure out how to help them, just like we would in any other emergency situation. Like Colin was–I believe–I believe he had just gone out of position and was about to go on break, and he was just right there, so I was able to just kind of throw him in there and help them out.

Brian Cox:  And–hey, it’s Brian; it actually worked out. We got pretty lucky there because Colin–you know Joel came and got Colin out and he happened to be walking out and heard me mention emergency and he was able to jump in. We got–I was grateful for that fact. We were pretty lucky that he was right there and ready to go.

Doug Church:  Larry and Brian, are each of–are any–are either of you I should say Pilots yourself or just Colin, of the three of you?

Brian Cox:  This is Brian; I am not.

Doug Church:  Okay.

Larry Bell:  Me neither. I’m not–this is Larry and I’m not a Pilot either. And that was why like Colin was like the perfect person to throw into that situation because of his flying experience. So, it was just a–we just got super-lucky and grateful that he was able to go in and help in that situation.

Doug Church:  Well Colin, before I ask you about that particular aspect of it and really–this is a common thread that we see through–through so many of our Archie League Award Winners through the first 15 years of this program is the number of winners who are Pilots that have been able to–to really put that expertise and combine it with the Controller performance to help ensure the–a safe outcome. So, it is a common thread through so many of these emergencies. Before I ask you about that part of it, let’s then keep going with the sequence of events. So, she’s–there’s not a–as you said, not a good–a nearby airport that–as an option. So, as you’re trying to get her to Knox City when did it become apparent that she was not even going to make Knox City safely?

Colin McKinnon:  So, this is Colin. First, I’ll add it’s–it’s nice to hear people say it was good to have me around instead of the opposite, so that’s you know that’s always a positive. [Laughs] But sometimes you don’t always hear that.

No, I think–I think the first thing I was thinking when I saw Brian and he said you know this–you know this lady has got an engine out. And I kind of just saw that you know he had basically the Oak City high sector was where all his traffic was. He you know–and it’s–and it’s a high overflight, high altitude overflight sector, so there’s not necessarily a whole ton of complexity. So, based on how we had configured stuff, there happened to be frequencies on the D-side and I just saw them there, and I thought you know what? I could take all this traffic from him and I think maybe the flying part came in. I knew–the first thing I want if I’m in a plane is to feel like I’m the center of attention. And especially in that emergency; especially you guys already talked about how calm she was. I didn’t want to take away from any of that calmness, so the first–that’s really the first thing I saw–frequencies, it just clicked in my head to plug in on the D-side and take those frequencies and that way he could just focus on that plane.

And then the second thing was like you said, that’s not a place with a lot of airports. I saw–I think I saw Brian clicking up the emergency airport and it’s like that feeling of man, there’s you know [Laughs] nothing is popping on the scope. But I–you know that’s why I was looking at the sectional. I think I ran over to where the low altitude sectional chart was down in the corner and just trying to see if there’s anything. I think that’s how we ended up seeing there was a highway and that was really it.

So yeah, that was–and then I just focused on basically working the high altitude traffic while he focused on trying to do what he could for–for her. And it’s definitely awesome that it was Brian working because he’s definitely known–he’s probably the calmest guy in our building, you know certainly our area. And so, I think that–I think that–that soothing calm voice I think is–as Doug as you’ve gone through a lot of these emergency situations, I think most Pilots will say that’s–sometimes that’s the biggest help especially as Controllers, especially in this situation where we feel like we can’t really do a whole lot. Sometimes that’s you know 90-percent of what we do to affect the situation is just giving them a calm voice, telling them that you know a person that’s there watching out for them, you know regardless of you know how it ends. But I guess that’s–

Doug Church:  Well, that’s exactly right, because you said it perfectly. That’s what–the number one thing that they want is the calm voice. And even the Pilot that I spoke with in the New England episode last month stated, look; the Controller, it was the Controller’s voice, Dave Chesley, that gave me the belief that I could survive this. I mean that was really powerful words by the Pilot and it’s shared by so many Pilots in these kinds of situations.

So, the highway we’re talking about–we’re talking about Highway 114; is that correct?

Male:  Yes.

Doug Church:  And so that runs roughly from Seymour, Texas southeast to Olney, which is northwest of Graham, so in pointing out that–that highway, how far ahead was the highway that she could have potentially landed on, which of course now we’re talking about north of Knox City?

Brian Cox:  This is Brian. I’m not actually sure because we don’t show it on our maps where the highway was. And I–and actually I’ve forgotten who actually told me, but it–it was either Larry or–or Colin had mentioned that 114 is out there. I thought it might have been Larry since he goes back and forth to Lubbock so much because he’s a Red Raider Alum. But you know one of the guys had mentioned it. And they had the map up for me and said hey, tell her 114 is out there in that area, because it’s–it’s not actually shown on the scope.

So, we just wanted to let her know hey, that’s out there.

Doug Church:  Okay.

Brian Cox:  And the other thing, and I’ve mentioned it before and to Colin was he–he really made the situation easy because by taking the frequencies of high altitude, I didn’t even have to look up there again. He just talked to everybody and fixed everything. I could just focus on her. To me, that–having that done and then having Larry to help out with the map work, and then just asking her questions, it–it all–the fact that all three of us were just kind of working together, really, really made it work. But Colin breaking off the high, really–it just–all I had to do was focus on getting her information and getting information from her at that point, which really–I think really helped make the situation or at least the outcome as–as good as it was because he was able just to relieve me of having to think about separating people now, all I have to do is work on this one. And I think there was another VFR on the frequency on the north side, but I didn’t really have to worry too much about them because they were–fine at that point, so–.

I was able to just focus on the emergency. So really, Colin really helped alleviate any work that I had to do other than just making sure that I could get her the information that she needed.

Doug Church:  Let’s keep the story going as far as the point at which the–that she was not going to be able to make either Knox City, either Highway 114. So now we’re down to Plan D–Delta [Laughs], which is find somewhere to go, to land. This plane is coming down and it needs to land safely. Take us through those sequences of events through the–through the communication with her of how the landing spot was chosen and–and then your mindset as you watched this unfold.

Brian Cox:  Well, it’s–it’s Brian again, and for us, I–we were–we were hopeful but as she got lower and lower, we weren’t–we could see it was getting really tight. And I wasn’t sure at any point if she was going to make it.

***

Pilot:  No; we’re not going to make the field. We’re turning towards the highway.

Controller:  Over, 5500 Kilo, Roger, you feel you can make the highway?

Pilot:  [Yes].

Controller:  Okay; we’re letting people know you’re going for the highway.

Pilot:  Close to us–

Controller:  I’m sorry; say it again.

Pilot:  The winds were just too strong. We’re going to have to pick one of these fields that’s below us.

Controller:  Roger, okay; I understand.

Brian Cox:  Obviously, the decision was theirs to land in the field. I guess I believe it was a little bit north of the field, but it came really at the last moment when she said hey, we’re not going to make it, if I remember correctly. Again, my–I think she turned a little bit back to the north and I think that’s where she found the field.

So, it–the one thing that we were actually able to do which again, I wasn’t sure how–I wasn’t sure if she was writing it down or not, but we were actually able to get her–her our phone number. And when she was able to land it was within a minute of when we lost her on the scope, she had actually called us from the ground and said hey, we’re down, we’re fine, everybody is good. So, that–that was actually a nice relief as opposed to just having it disappear and then waiting for somebody to go out and find them. It was–they–she actually called this in, like within a minute of being on the ground.

Doug Church:  Okay.

Colin McKinnon:  And this is Colin and I’ll chime in for a second. But I think if I remember, she had initially said she was turning back for the highway and that’s when she started turning. And then I think that was kind of the realization–because I remember, I had–we had kind of thought about her descent rate and her speed. And then obviously, you know we knew it was going to be tight to Knox City when we originally kind of calculated that out, but then obviously, as she kind of got lower, her speed just dropped slower and slower. And that’s when you know it–it was pretty obvious; you know another plan was going to have to take place. But I think she had said she was going to turn for the highway. And that’s probably when she realized you know what? Just going through the Pilot thought and that’s why I–it’ll be really interesting; I wish I could talk to her, so it will be interesting to hear her thoughts.

But, my guess, is she probably saw that field and I–I looked–I went and looked on Google Maps, I’m just a–I’m a curious mind, so I went and looked on Google Maps afterwards and it seemed like basically there’s kind of some rougher terrain and then like a river and then you still got another like four or five miles to the airport passed that. So, my guess is she started seeing all that and she saw a clear enough field below her that that’s where she started to turn back. And then when she was the highway was too far, she just decided you know this is the best–which is perfect, you know piloting. You know you always got to make sure you have somewhere, the safest option is–is a–you know is a nice level field, and you know as long as you have that as your backup you know, you want to always keep that in range.

So, you know I can’t say enough about you know at least from my point of view how awesome of a job she did. And I think–I was the one that answered when she called on the ground. And I was–I think you can probably hear it in my voice, I just remember, like–like thank God; you know thank–thank God.

***

Controller:  Forward Center–

Pilot:  We’re safe on the ground.

Controller:  Oh, thank God. Okay; well, we’ve got people coming to you, so you should have some sort of police or something out there.

Pilot:  Okay; thank you.

Controller:  43060-360.

Pilot:  Okay; thank you so much for your help.

Controller:  Thank you. Oh no; you did awesome, good job. All right; we’ll–we’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

Pilot:  Okay; thank you.

***

Colin McKinnon:  I had actually like four months ago before this, maybe it was–I mean COVID makes everything seem like it was you know yesterday, but it was probably longer than that. But I had–had a guy who had engine trouble going into Olney which is near Graham. I remember the same feeling, like that ended up working out great and it ended up not being anything because he ended up having at least partial power and making it to the runway. And I just remember that same type of feeling, like oh man, I just like–please, just you know make sure she’s on the ground safely.

And I think I remember her saying it’s just really hot, and that just kind of switched me to the next point, which was okay, we’ve got to make sure people get to her, like you know we got to make sure people find her. But yeah; I just–I thought–I thought she–this whole time, I thought she did an exceptional job and it’s–we’ve had similar engine-out situations that don’t end as well. And you know the Pilot has a lot to do in that situation and she did it you know–an awesome job, and I wish I could talk to her. Maybe I will eventually but–to get her thoughts at least.

Doug Church:  So, the final part of this of course is that getting help to her, so after she–you know obviously what a relief to get that phone call from her that she’s on the ground. What’s the process then as far as making sure rescue personnel can get out to the field quickly and getting word to them?

Larry Bell:  This is Larry. I was involved in a lot of that. I had to–once the track dropped off, you know I had to go and get the lat/longs; that way we had a good approximate idea of where she was at. So, I was able to grab that from the scope and then relay that to the Operation Manager. And the whole time while this was happening, me and the Ops Manager were–we were working on contacting the correct people. And we got–I believe we finally got ahold of the Knox County, just the Police Department there, and they were already working on getting to the airport and getting that all sorted out.

And then you know then we were able to give them the lat/longs. And I’m not sure how long it took them to get out there. But hopefully it was in a reasonable amount of time.

Doug Church:  And one thing I didn’t ask you at the outset and I haven’t been able to find this out yet is what was the altitude that she was at when she first declared the emergency and lost her engine?

Brian Cox:  It’s Brian. I–I haven’t looked at the Falcon. I thought it was 11,500 because she was VFR.

Doug Church:  Okay.

Brian Cox:  I think it. Either it was that or it was like maybe 13.5. She was up to where she could glide a little ways which was definitely helpful in this case.

Colin McKinnon:  Yeah; this is Colin. I think by the time I sat down over there she was still definitely I think right around 10,000 feet is what I remember. So, she–yeah, I think I made that remark to Brian before, but you know it’s definitely lucky in that area that she was as high as she was, because there was–you know she was not in a good area for options, for sure.

Doug Church:  Yeah. And it occurs to me the time we’ve been on the–this–this call is about three times as long as the event actually took, right, about eight minutes?

Male:  Yeah; it doesn’t feel like it. [Laughs] It felt a lot longer when we were sitting there.

Doug Church:  So that’s my next question. You just answered exactly what I was going to ask you, was–I’m sure in the heat of that moment, it probably felt like a lot longer. Is there anymore you want to add about that?

Brian Cox:  Actually yeah; this is Brian. Yeah; the seconds felt like minutes. It really did. And for me, another part of this is after the fact just having a chance to reflect on it, it was for me I was frustrated a little bit, not with anybody or anything. It was just I–I just felt like I couldn’t do anything. I mean, I felt helpless is really kind of what it is–is really what I’m trying to say, I guess. Is it–I know–I helped her to get to the airport. There’s–you know this is where it is. This is your best chance. You know you get the information, but it’s–you know when you have a medical emergency, you can move other planes and get guys going fast. You can get everybody out of their way. I–it’s–for me it was it was; it was a little bit frustrating because I couldn’t–there’s nothing else I could do. And that part, it bothered me.

Colin McKinnon:  No; I mean–this is Colin, but the same exact thoughts you know. And that’s why you’re just trying to scramble to do whatever you think you can do to help them out, by finding stuff, making sure people are getting to them. So, you know very similar situation.

Larry Bell:  This is Larry. And I think we all agree like yeah; if we have an aircraft land in a field, we all sit there and think afterwards what could we have done better? Could we have done anything? What other move could we have made you know to–for this–to prevent this, like was there another airport you know, or could we have made another recommendation or something like that? But in this situation, I think we made all the right calls. And I think everyone, they did their job perfectly. Brian was calm. Colin took the frequencies away and was a good assist there. And the Pilot was calm and had all her options available.

So, but yeah; we all–but we’re perfectionists and we always want to do better the next time. And we were all sitting there afterwards, like is there anywhere else we could have got her to land on a runway? So, that’s just part of the job and we all learned from it.

Doug Church:  Absolutely. There’s always that and you–your sentiments are shared by so many of your brothers and sisters who I’ve talked to about these kinds of events is the afterwards and thinking about it and analyzing it. And that’s what makes you–you better next time, right, I mean the professionalism and the–and the standards that you keep to–to always want to improve is something that I think is the hallmark of–of this profession.

Let me wrap up with just a couple more questions here real briefly. Is–and the first one is, you know what do you what are your thoughts about receiving this award, representing the Southwest Region in this Awards program? What are your thoughts as you reflect on that?

Brian Cox:  It’s Brian. For me personally it’s an honor especially you know that they would–that they would look at that. I mean we’re doing our job. This is kind of–you know this is what we do. This is what we’re supposed to do. And I was grateful to have Colin and Larry and even Joel in there to–you know even though he–because he got Colin out, and Joel actually you know helped out, too because you know he was–Colin was available to help me out. And it’s–you know it all worked well. It’s an honor to be to have the award and to you know–to work with Colin and Larry and everybody else. It’s–I mean for me, it’s I absolutely appreciate it. You know we all work hard, and it is; it’s just–you know thank you.

Colin McKinnon:  This is Colin. You know originally, it’s hard not to feel a little undeserved [Laughs] just naturally because I feel like you know we all just did our job and I think a lot of it was the Pilot and she just did an exceptional job. And thankfully it was a good outcome, which makes the award feel better, or I guess makes the award feel okay, I guess. But that outcome had a lot to do with her, so it’s–you know I guess I’m–I go in between feeling both ways, but obviously it’s–it’s always great to feel like people I guess at least respected the job you did or what you did. You know I–I would hope–you know there–there has been situations, other Controllers have dealt with, which I felt like they did a–you know a great job and maybe didn’t get as much recognition maybe because the situation didn’t work out as great or–. You know it didn’t–or they end up getting their engine back or you know it ends up working out differently. But maybe the Controller I felt did an awesome job in that situation. So, it’s–you know there is a two-way, but I guess you know at the end of the day it’s–it’s always good to feel like you did a good job. But like Brian says, it’s–it’s also good to know, I think we do work in a great area, with a lot of really good people and certainly on our side of the schedule, the–the guys we work with I think we’re all real close, whether we disagree or agree on stuff. We’re always you know–I think we work really, really well together. And I think that–that played a huge–a huge part in how this worked out as well.

Larry Bell:  This is Larry. I would just echo a lot of the same sentiments the–we all felt like we were just doing our job that day. And the result that was happened was part of that. And we were–we’re real grateful to have the award and I think Brian and Colin are underselling themselves a little bit, just classic examples of professionalism. Brian, so calm in that situation, and Colin as well, just being a guide, helping Brian out and just great to work with them. They’re both great Controllers and I was glad to be a part of it.

Doug Church:  Thank you each of you.

Brian Cox:  It’s Brian again. I just–I agree with Colin, too. The–the out–we definitely helped the outcome. The Pilot, she was absolutely phenomenal to work with. Just–she was–she really knew her stuff and–and she–you know she had to fly the plane and she–she really did an amazing job flying the plane. She helped–I think her calmness helped keep everybody else calm and hopefully vice-versa. We were able to just kind of keep everybody–everybody focused and working and hopefully, we were both able–. She did an incredible job of getting that plane to the ground safely.

Doug Church:  Here’s Fort Worth Center NATCA [FacRep] Nick Daniels, who was understandably proud of his members.

Nick Daniels:  I just wanted to say hey, a huge thank you to you for doing this. I know you gave credit to Kelly Richardson for the idea, but you know obviously I also want to thank the three of them, for Larry, Colin and Brian, for being such outstanding ambassadors and representations of the true definition of a team, a workforce, and you know professionals, that–that stepped in to–to rise to the moment that was needed, and I couldn’t be more proud. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the facility, you know representing them, and they make us all look good. And like you said, they’re going to say it’s, you know just another day’s work, because I know it is to them, and no Controller sits down to plug-in to say man, I can’t wait to be a news story today. But at the same time, I know that each one of these guys holds their heads high in the job that they do, and I couldn’t be more impressed by the story they told. I didn’t even know a lot of what had happened until listening to this.

So, I want to thank them for being who they are and being part of this Union and–and representing us all so well.

Doug Church:  My thanks to Larry, Brian, Colin, and Nick for sharing their stories and perspective on this incredible event. And thanks to all of you for listening to this episode of the NATCA Podcast. I’m Doug Church. Please stay safe, and we look forward to sharing our next story with you.

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