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2018 Archie League Medal of Safety Award Winners

2018 – Winners of the 14th Annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards, honored on Oct. 24, 2018 at Bally’s in Las Vegas:

Alaskan Region: Scott T. Eastepp, Anchorage Center

Anchorage Center (ZAN) Quality Control Specialist Scott Eastepp used his knowledge and previous experience in locating a lost visual flight rules (VFR) aircraft on Jan. 30, 2017, with a severe winter storm bearing down. After the family aboard the aircraft spent one night on a snow-covered abandoned airstrip, it was not looking good for them to spend a second night with another snowstorm headed their direction.

Pilot Josh Smith and his family left Lake Hood in Anchorage in a Cessna 180 and intended to fly 65 miles southwest to Kenai, which is located on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet. But when they didn’t arrive at Kenai Municipal Airport on schedule, a concerned family member alerted the Kenai Flight Service Station.

The team there performed a search for a flight plan but found no information or any contact with the aircraft. They transmitted an alert notice. When ZAN controllers received the alert, they immediately began looking for the missing aircraft along its intended flight route toward Kenai.

The aircraft did not have a transponder so the team relied on the departure time to help modify the search area.

After reviewing replays that produce a graphical replay of air traffic, Anchorage Quality Control located a possible aircraft target and tracked it until it descended below radar coverage. After locating another possible target in close proximity to the first target, Eastepp determined they were in a “see and avoid” scenario. He recognized the beacon code of the second aircraft and immediately called the parent company in order to contact the pilot of the second aircraft. The pilot of the second aircraft stated he did see the lost aircraft and overheard over the common frequency that the “lost” aircraft was headed up to Merrill Pass, which is 100 miles away from the pilots’ intended destination of Kenai.

Eastepp handed the case over to the Technical Operations personnel since he was no longer able to view the track since it descended below radar coverage. Technicians John Farley and Paul Mueller were able to pick up the trail and provide a general location of the lost aircraft, using an enhanced radar intelligence tool, which looks for discarded targets that do not appear on controllers’ radar scopes. They narrowed their search to a non-transponder-equipped, primary-only aircraft that departed to the north and continued west across Cook Inlet, away from their planned route.

The ZAN team relayed the aircraft’s last known coordinates to Alaska’s Rescue Coordination Center. With severe weather approaching, a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew set out to find the missing aircraft and located it not far from the coordinates that the ZAN team provided. The crew heard the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter, used direction-finding equipment and, when in range, saw a flare shot by the pilot of the plane.

The aircraft flipped while attempting to land on an abandoned snow-covered ridgeline airstrip.

Alaska search and rescue worked very well in this event with the help of controllers, technicians, and Flight Service. Their actions helped save the life of the pilot, his father-in-law, and his 12-year-old daughter.

(Read more about this incident from Coast Guard News.)

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Central Region: Josh Giles, Kansas City Center

When a Denver Center (ZDV) air traffic controller called 11-year veteran Kansas City Center air traffic controller Josh Giles at the start of the midnight shift of Nov. 22, 2017 to advise of an aircraft about to enter Giles’s Prairie Area Sector 66 position, the only thing Giles knew for sure from his ZDV colleague was that the aircraft was having electrical problems.

“OK, we’ll figure it out,” Giles told the ZDV controller, and went to work. He was continuing to handle other traffic in his airspace and now had this emergency aircraft in need of his immediate assistance.

The situation for the aircraft soon got worse. Much worse.

When the pilot of the homebuilt, experimental aircraft – callsign November 2-4-1 Bravo Bravo – checked onto Giles’s frequency, he was without a transponder.

Due to limited radar coverage in the area, there was no primary target for Giles to monitor. The pilot advised he was planning to go all the way to New Century AirCenter Airport (IXD) in Olathe, Kan., but a short time later, he realized he needed to land sooner.

The pilot reported to Giles that he believed his alternator was out, which was causing other issues, such as the non-working transponder, the inability to know how much fuel remained in each tank, and the intermittent transmissions on the radio frequency. Giles advised him to shut off all systems except for those required to fly the aircraft.

“Once you get around the Manhattan (Kan.) area, Mike Hotel Kilo, then turn your battery back on and call me and I’ll be able to coordinate you going into the next sector,” Giles told the pilot.

A short time later, the pilot, without solid information about how much fuel he had left, requested to divert and land at the nearest airport. Giles, without being able to see him on radar, advised Hays, Kan., Airport (HYS) was near his approximate location. But the pilot could not find it on his GPS and Giles then pointed out Osborne Airport (K75).

Due to limited radio coverage, Giles utilized an en route UPS aircraft to relay information to the pilot. Since the pilot was unable to do so, the UPS aircraft even tuned to the frequency of K75 and was able to have the runway lights turned on for the pilot.

“If you could relay for him and just ask him if he has the airport in sight, One Bravo Bravo,” Giles asked the UPS pilot.

“He does have the airport,” the UPS pilot told Giles. After several more relays, and a short time later, there was more good news from the UPS pilot: “He did make it safely on the ground.”

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Eastern Region: Jeffrey Haberland and Tim Krainak, Clarksburg ATCT

Jeff Haberland, a 28-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) veteran and the current NATCA FacRep at Clarksburg ATCT (CKB), teamed with Tim Krainak, who has been at the tower for his six years at the FAA, to help guide a pilot to a safe landing at an alternate airport last fall after icing conditions in the clouds led to a change in travel plans. Haberland was on the radio frequency with the pilot most of the 27 minutes of the event, but the pilot declared an emergency after Krainak took over the radar position.

The incident occurred on the afternoon of Oct. 29, 2017, as weather forced a Grumman American AA-5 headed to Maryland to shift its course northwest over the Appalachian Mountains. The pilot asked to land at Elkins-Randolph County Regional Airport when he checked in with CKB approach control.

Ice started forming as the four-seat light aircraft descended through the clouds. The pilot initially tried to compensate for the icing by flying lower. Haberland gave him the discretion to look for a clear spot between 6,000 feet and 7,000 feet.

Haberland provided weather reports for both Clarksburg and Morgantown, adding that the clouds were low throughout the airspace at that point. He said he had three hours of fuel.

As icing conditions persisted, the pilot requested a diversion to Yeager Airport in Charleston. He also asked if he could ascend as high as 10,000 feet to try to get above the clouds. Haberland granted both that request and the discretion for the pilot to maintain altitude between cloud layers at any clear point during his climb.

Even between cloud layers at 7,500 feet, ice formed on the leading edge of the wings. Haberland told the pilot he could descend another 500 feet on his current course and could go as low as 3,000 feet if he veered northwest toward Upshur County Regional Airport. But that altitude still wouldn’t be below the clouds. Braxton County Airport to the southwest was another option, he said.

Haberland briefed Krainak on the situation at shift change. Less than a minute later, the pilot asked to descend more. Krainak approved an altitude of 3,500 feet but said the pilot would have to declare an emergency to go lower than that on his current course because of the terrain and potential obstructions in the area.

Haberland and Krainak had been using the normal map that controllers use to determine minimum altitudes. Krainak switched to the more detailed Emergency Obstruction Video Map, or EOVM, when the pilot declared an emergency.

Using the map, Krainak initially vectored the pilot toward Braxton County Airport but had second thoughts because of the weather there. He redirected the pilot toward Upshur County Regional Airport and approved an altitude of 2,200 feet.

At 2,900 feet, the pilot said the ice was starting to melt. The pilot asked for and the controller gave vectors for the RNAV 11 at W22. The controller then vectored the aircraft toward the airport. The pilot reported it in sight and was cleared visual approach. The pilot transmitted they were touching down.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Great Lakes Region: Daniel Rak, Indianapolis Center

On April 9, 2018, the pilot of a Beechcraft Baron BE-55 (N55VF) departed Portage County Regional Airport in Ravenna, Ohio (POV) on an instrument flight rules flight plan to Allendale County Airport in South Carolina (AQX). The pilot didn’t plan on having to make a life-saving pit stop a little more than an hour into the flight. As the aircraft approached mountainous terrain and below-freezing temperatures east of Charleston, W.Va., it began accumulating ice.

Indianapolis Center (ZID) NATCA member Daniel Rak, working in Area 2, was handling the airspace above Charleston, W.Va., (CRW) approach control when they called needing assistance with the pilot at 8,000 feet, trying to get out of the adverse icing conditions. Immediately, Rak jumped on the line to coordinate a higher altitude with an adjacent sector and requested a climb out pilot report from a departure aircraft in the area. Without missing a beat, he relayed this information to the controller at CRW and approved the aircraft to climb to 12,000 feet.

Rak transitioned between frequencies and landlines as he continued to safely and efficiently work multiple aircraft in his sector. He was able to remain calm and composed as he balanced the needs of the aircraft as well as maintaining operational integrity.

The pilot worked desperately to maintain airspeed as the aircraft labored out of 8,000 feet towards 12,000 feet.

The pilot was reporting rapidly accumulating moderate rime icing. Rak, recognizing the current situation was becoming dire, swiftly developed an alternate plan of action to assist the pilot. He issued the aircraft a descent back down to 8,000 feet and suggested a heading to the northwest and west towards a lower minimum IFR altitude and warmer air temperatures.

As the aircraft continued to lose airspeed and altitude, the pilot nervously searched for a safe place to land. Rak promptly issued airport information for Raleigh County Memorial Airport, W.Va. (BKW) including location, automated weather observation, and minimum IFR altitude. Unfortunately, at that moment, the pilot lost control. “Baron 5VF is descending below eight thousand, we are stalling.”

Rak updated the pilot on the current minimum IFR altitude in the area and began coordination with Charleston Approach to get N55VF inbound on the ILS approach to BKW Airport. Thankfully, soon after, the pilot regained control.

At 1:01 p.m. local time, 35 minutes after Rak had received the initial landline call, the aircraft landed without incident at BKW.

The pilot in command, Tim Paul, called to say the controller involved in their decision to divert to BKW provided outstanding service and communicated all the vital information they needed for the pilot to ultimately make the decision to land. He stated that they encountered an incredible amount of ice and had the controller not been so on top of the situation and insistent, the outcome could have been much worse.

Rak’s ability to think quickly, remain calm under pressure, and maintain situational awareness was instrumental in ensuring a safe outcome to this flight.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

New England Region: Jesse Belleau, Boston Terminal Radar Approach Control

On Oct. 23, 2017, Cape Air Flight 21 took off from Augusta, Maine, headed for Boston.

But the flight was interrupted when the crew reported a fire in the dome light in the cockpit of the Cessna 402. They declared an emergency to Boston TRACON.

“We need immediate landing. Smoke in the cockpit. Fire confirmed,” was the ominous report over the frequency.

NATCA member Jesse Belleau immediately began to assess the situation and the available options. He quickly offered Bedford-Hanscom Field (BED), located approximately 20 miles northwest of downtown Boston and Logan Airport (BOS). The crew asked about conditions at both locations.

Belleau chose BED because the weather there was reported 3,000’ scattered while BOS was in instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions showing low visibility and 3,000 runway visual range (RVR).

“Alright, we are heading to Bedford,” a crew member said.

Belleau issued a right turn and 310 heading. He told the crew the airport was 21 degrees to the right and seven miles away. He also gave wind readings and reported that any of the runways were open for them. He chose Runway 29 because it was just about a straight-in approach even though there was a slight quartering tailwind at 7 knots.

“Bedford said you can have any runway you need,” Belleau said.

The pilots then lined up straight on for their approach and were six miles out.

“Cape 21 cleared visual approach at the Bedford Airport,” Belleau said.

Belleau then cleared the aircraft to land on Runway 29 and issued the wind report.

The pilot on frequency asked if there were any obstacles to be aware of as they made their final approach.

“There’s just a tower just off your right front,” Belleau reported, but indicated that everything else should be clear and safe.

“OK we have that in sight,” the pilot said.

Belleau then gave him the frequency for BED ATCT.

“Alright, thanks, see ya,” came the final transmission.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Northwest Mountain Region: Christopher Bancroft and Jacques Mailloux, Broomfield Jefferson County ATCT

On April 27, 2017, the pilot of a single-engine Mooney M20E was taxiing out to Runway 30 Right for departure at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (BJC).

But something was definitely odd and disturbing about the situation. Eight-year veteran BJC air traffic controller Chris Bancroft, working Ground Control, knew it from the moment the pilot keyed the microphone. During initial and subsequent radio transmissions, Bancroft noticed that the pilot was slurring his speech.

Chris attempted to get a proper readback for runway and call sign several times, with no luck. It was then that he turned to BJC colleague and 10-year veteran air traffic controller Jacques Mailloux for advice. Mailloux had experience dealing with a similar situation. He suggested that Bancroft ask if he had an instructor on board. The pilot responded no.

During this time, Mailloux was speaking with BJC airport operations personnel to report this suspicious behavior. Eventually, Chris told the pilot to shut down his engine, saying airport operations would like to speak with him.

The Jefferson County, Colo., Sheriff Office also responded to investigate what it believed was either a DUI or a medical issue.

The pilot, after proceeding to a hangar with his aircraft, was with BJC officers when the Sheriff officer arrived. He immediately noticed the pilot’s speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot and watery. He also could detect the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath. Also, his balance was unsteady and he was having difficulty standing. The officer put the pilot through a series of field sobriety maneuvers, which the pilot was unable to complete satisfactorily. The pilot was arrested.

The pilot completed a breath test, the result of which was a .20 BAC. The airport informed the owner of the aircraft that it would be terminating their hangar lease.

“It was a great job by both Chris and Jacques,” said BJC member and former Facility Representative Kyle Beamsderfer, who nominated Bancroft and Mailloux. “Who knows how many lives they may have saved that night?

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Northwest Mountain Region: Jeffrey Rawson, Salt Lake City ATCT

During the morning shift on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, there were many factors that contributed to creating a very complex situation at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). Throughout the morning, there were snowstorms in the terminal area. Due to the snow accumulation, there were times that all runways were closed. The snow also reduced visibility to less than one mile and Runway Visual Range (RVR) advisories were being issued to aircraft on takeoff and landing. Aircraft were involved in de-icing operations.

At 12:10 p.m., Runway 35 reopened after a five-hour closure. Shortly thereafter, SkyWest Flight 5843 (SKW5843) called out of the Lima de-icing pad and taxied to Runway 35 for departure. At the time, the runway was not visible from the tower. Air traffic controller Jeff Rawson had just returned from break and was assigned to relieve the supervisor working the Local Control East position. The Local Control East controller was in the process of issuing winds, RVRs, and runway condition codes to SKW5843. After issuing the information to SKW5843, the Local Control East Controller cleared the aircraft for takeoff and began a position relief briefing with Rawson.

Shortly after the position relief briefing began, Rawson observed a primary target on the departure end of Runway 35 moving towards SKW5843. He quickly brought the target to the attention of the Local Control East controller who cancelled SKW5843’s takeoff clearance. SKW5843 was instructed to hold in position as the target proceeded toward the aircraft. Near intersection November on Runway 35, SKW5843’s pilot reported that he had an airport operations vehicle in sight and that the vehicle was exiting Runway 35 towards taxiway November.

Airport officials confirmed that an electrical contract work truck had entered Runway 35 from the Kilo 9 intersection and proceeded down Runway 35.

Rawson’s attention to detail prevented a tragic situation from occurring. By observing the target on the Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE) display and taking quick action, Rawson was the last layer of safety that prevented a collision between SKW5843 and the airport operations vehicle.

After the incident, the SkyWest pilot, Capt. Ryan Andreasen, wrote a letter to SLC FAA Air Traffic Manager Jill Story, which read in part:

“As I am writing this letter, I have found it difficult to put in words the magnitude of thanks for the performance of your staff that day.

“On behalf of myself, First Officer Kizna Loosle, Flight Attendants Michelle Jensen and Crystal Jorgensen and especially the 65 passengers on board, we owe our lives to your staff for their attentiveness to see the detail of that ‘phantom target.’

“Please tell everybody that we are extremely thankful for your attention to detail and professionalism. My Crew will always appreciate the protection you give us every single day.”

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Southern Region: Joshua Hall, Patrick Allen Johnson, Jeremiah Lee, Darren P. Tumelson, William T. Vaughn III, and Andrew John White, Memphis Center

On the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne departed Cleveland, Miss., located between Memphis, Tenn., and Jackson, Miss. The aircraft was en route to Destin, Fla., and the pilot, Charles Schindler, requested VFR flight following. Shortly after reporting on frequency, he stated that there was an issue with the aircraft and he was attempting to troubleshoot.

Within a few minutes, the problems got worse and Schindler declared an emergency. He requested to land at Greenwood, Miss., less than 10 miles away.

The controllers working on Memphis Center (ZME) sector 65, Andrew White and Tommy Vaughn, spent the next two hours assisting Schindler as he experienced locked flight controls, autopilot issues, loss of pitch control, and hydraulic failure. A team of other controllers, including Josh Hall, Patrick Johnson, Jeremy Lee, and Darren Tumelson, and supervisors went to work to assist Schindler with the many issues he was dealing with.

A key moment came when the team contacted Vincent Zarrella, Director of Global Customer Support with Piper Aircraft, Inc. Johnson, who has multi-engine IFR experience, was on the phone with Zarrella and relaying information directly to and from Schindler. Johnson told Zarrella that Schindler could not lower the landing gear and that the aircraft was suddenly experiencing changes in altitude with no command inputs. Schindler could not move the flight controls and he thought the autopilot was engaged. Zarrella brought Piper Chief Pilot Bart Jones into his office and they continued to provide instructions for Schindler on how to disengage the autopilot, including pulling all related circuit breakers and momentarily turning off both generators and the battery. But this didn’t help Schindler’s ability to move the flight controls.

Zarrella and Jones advised Schindler to override the autopilot by forcing the flight controls. Reducing power caused the aircraft to descend, indicating that if autopilot engagement was the problem, at least the altitude hold mode was not engaged and Schindler could control his altitude with power.

At one point, the controllers told Schindler to start a northward turn to avoid a line of thunderstorms that he was approaching while involved in the difficult task of simply maintaining straight and level flight. The aircraft was approximately 80 miles south of Greenwood and the controllers continued to provide navigational guidance, reassurance, and information.

Finally, after more expert guidance on final approach from Zarrella, Jones, and Johnson, Schindler landed safely at Greenwood. It was almost two hours and 300 miles from where he took off. His unintended destination was only 37 miles away from his departure.

This was the second time in 18 months that Schindler experienced an in-flight emergency in the same aircraft in Memphis Center’s airspace and, incredibly, the second time Tumelson was part of the resulting flight assist.

Schindler’s wife, Ashley, who had waited helplessly on the ground during the event, wrote a thank you note to the facility which read, in part, “Probably the most calming for me was knowing that Memphis Center had him! Each and every one of you played a specific role to support my husband and his safe landing and for that, he, our five children, and I owe you a debt of gratitude that cannot possibly be repaid properly.”

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Southwest Region: Phil Enis, Thomas Herd, and Hugh Hunton, Fort Worth Center

It was an emotional moment on Jan. 10, 2018 when pilot and Paris, Texas, neurologist Dr. Peter Edenhoffer met and thanked the air traffic control team at Fort Worth Center (ZFW) that came to his aid on Super Bowl Sunday 2017 when his Cessna Cardinal experienced complete electrical failure. Hearing Edenhoffer describe how he texted his son to tell him goodbye -thinking he was not going to survive the experience – hit the controllers hard.

But Edenhoffer did survive, thanks to the teamwork and quick, outside-the-box thinking demonstrated by the team of professionals at ZFW with more than 150 years of combined experience: NATCA members Hugh Hunton, Thomas Herd, and Phil Enis, with support from Charlie Porter, Mike Clifton, Mike Turner, and Bryan Beck.

The three NSW Archie League winners and others on duty that Sunday evening had just one hour left on their shifts. Edenhoffer’s flight began uneventfully. He was cleared to land in Paris, which was reporting ¾-mile visibility with 200-foot cloud ceilings. But then Porter and Enis noticed the aircraft’s beacon code reappear on their radar scope. That would not be unusual if a plane missed its approach and was going around for a second attempt, but the altitude indicator showed the aircraft was climbing well above the missed approach altitude of 3,000 feet to as high as 6,500.

Enis attempted to reestablish communications with Edenhoffer without success. He then noticed the beacon code briefly change to 7700, indicating an emergency. Over the next hour, Porter and Enis used every technique they knew to attempt to reach Edenhoffer. They asked other aircraft on frequency to attempt to reach him and continually advised him of his aircraft’s position to emergency airports and more favorable weather conditions for visual flight, even with no response.

The team brainstormed new ways they could reach Edenhoffer, including a Google search of the aircraft tail number. That led to a Google search of the Edenhoffer’s name based off his registrations, which in turn led to finding out he was a neurosurgeon. Then they searched locations where he could possibly practice neurosurgery near the home base of the aircraft, which led to a call to a hospital that knew Edenhoffer. They finally were able to locate his cell phone number. Calls to the cell number for 45 minutes were not answered but then they tried texting Edenhoffer – and it worked.

Texts revealed Edenhoffer not only had suffered a complete electrical failure, but he was flying on minimal fuel and needed to land quickly. “It was pretty tense,” Edenhoffer said. “My worst flying hours that I’ve had.” The team of controllers texted Edenhoffer the VFR areas in his vicinity. He texted ZFW to request they turn the runway lights on at Majors Airport in Greenville, Texas. The controllers tracked him and waited anxiously before receiving a triumphant final text from Edenhoffer that he had landed safely.

To mark the occasion of the reunion, Edenhoffer presented the team with a thank you letter.

He wrote, “How can simple words of thanks ever express the depths of saving a life? There are, however, only words of appreciation, which can be offered. Had your team not been willing to think outside the box, to use personal ingenuity even against the conventional rules in place, I might not be sitting here to write today. So often rules are so ingrained in individuals that they impede even the goals they are designed to reach. Thankfully, such was not the case that night.”

More on this event:

Emotional Reunion as Pilot Meets ZFW Team That Helped Save His Life

A Super Bowl Save

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Western Pacific Region: Benjamin Kingston, San Francisco ATCT

On Feb. 19, 2018, San Francisco ATCT (SFO) air traffic controller Benjamin Kingston was working Local Control during seemingly normal traffic conditions — VFR (visual flight rules) mid morning, a really nice winter day — when the abnormal occurred.

Kingston was working a departure on Runway 28 Left, United Flight 875 to Tokyo, and an arrival to Runway 28 Right, United Flight 2051 from Tampa, Fla. Kingston asked UAL2051 its gate. They replied 87, which is located all the way around the back of the United terminal. Kingston gave the aircraft instructions to get them to a downfield taxiway so that the aircraft could be crossed after UAL875 and before the next arrival.

UAL2051 came back and said they made the Taxiway Tango turnoff, and asked if Kingston wanted them to “go down to Quebec?” Kingston advised the aircraft to hold short of Runway 28 Left, with a good read back. This was very normal and routine.

UAL875 was rolling down Runway 28 Left, just passing through Runway 1 Right and clear of the departure off of Runway 1 Right. That is the time that a controller would normally scan to the south end of the airport to clear the next departure off of Runway 1 for takeoff before the next Runway 28 arrival. However, while monitoring the exit speed of UAL2051 onto Taxiway Tango, Kingston realized there was no way UAL2051 was stopping short of Runway 28 Left. SFO controller Eric Carter heard Kingston say twice, “UAL2051 stop!” Carter saw what was happening.

Looking at Runway 28 Left near high speed Taxiway Tango, the departure and the arrival were now merging. UAL2051, looking ahead, was unable to see the departure behind and to their left and was not stopping short of Runway 28 Left. It crossed the hold bars, stopping short of the runway edge seconds prior to UAL875 rolling through but not yet rotated into its takeoff. Without Kingston’s attention to the situation, the two aircraft would have been in the exact same location at the exact same time. It was at the point there was nothing else that could have been said or done.

“In the tower there have been many times that there was an opportunity to say something, bringing timely attention to a situation that may be building, and with timely correction mitigating an undesired outcome,” Carter said. “This time, it was purely Kingston doing what he said was ‘in my gut’ to keep looking at UAL2051. It was a situation where there was absolutely no time to react or respond to this and say something to mitigate the outcome.”

Carter nominated Kingston for the Archie League Medal of Safety Award, he said, “for utilizing not only experience, but also his gut, while staying diligent to the task, and ensuring an outcome that everyone can fly once again. This is professionalism personified.”

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

Western Pacific Region: Scott Allen, Tucson ATCT

On Nov. 9, 2017, Tucson International Airport (TUS) was in the midst of a major construction project for a resurfacing project of Runway 11 Left. As a result, many taxiways were closed, Runway 11 Left was shortened, and the threshold was moved about 2,000 feet to the west. To accommodate all of the construction, TUS air traffic controllers had to use different methods and flows than usual, and were aware to expect the unexpected.  

The taxiway closures forced controllers to use unusual taxi routes and required them to use the crossing runway much more than they normally would. At TUS, they are also proud to say that they work the largest unit of F-16s – over 75 total – at a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facility.

On this afternoon, TUS air traffic controller Scott Allen was working both Local Control positions combined and using the shortened Runway 11 Left and the crossing Runway 21 to keep a steady amount of mixed traffic moving. A King Air was cleared to land on Runway 21 and a flight of four F-16s, Popeye1, was several miles out and cleared to land on Runway 11 Left. When the King Air landed, the pilot exited onto Runway 11 Right/Taxiway B, and then turned left onto Taxiway D. He was instructed to hold short of Runway 11 Left.

But as the King Air was pulling up to the hold bars of Runway 11 Left, it became apparent to Allen that he was not going to be able to stop in time. The first of the four F-16s was already past the intersection of Runway 11 Left and Taxiway D, and the second one – Popeye2 – had just touched down. The ground controller tried to reach the King Air to hold short of Runway 11 Left but the aircraft did not stop. Allen was quick to react:

“King Air Five Alpha Mike (N395AM) Stop!” Allen said.

Allen instructed Popeye 2 to go around. The King Air was about a third of the way across the runway. “Scott’s instruction was both timely and clear enough that it gave the (Popeye2) pilot just enough time to throttle up, get airborne, and angle his aircraft to avoid the King Air,” said TUS NATCA FacRep Ryan Holaway. “Estimates regarding the distance between the two aircraft are as low as 20 feet.”

TUS controller Garon Hedberg, a trainee at the time of the incident, said, “I was completely in awe as to what I had just witnessed. I knew that Scott had just saved multiple lives. The fact that those two aircraft didn’t collide is an absolute miracle and was only possible due to Scott’s actions. As a true professional, Scott continued to work and told Popeye3 and Popeye4 to go around as well.”

“Scott’s actions not only this day, but every day he comes to work, would serve as an excellent example for anyone in any career field to follow,” Holaway said. “Scott is the model of integrity. He’s a stellar air traffic controller and one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

BELOW: Watch and listen to highlights from this save event.

President’s Award: Joshua Hall, Patrick Allen Johnson, Jeremiah Lee, Darren P. Tumelson, William T. Vaughn III, and Andrew John White, Memphis Center and Phil Enis, Thomas Herd, and Hugh Hunton, Fort Worth Center

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

VIDEO: Banquet Opening Remarks by Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer Teri Bristol

VIDEO: Highlights Compilation
Photo Album

View our photo album from the awards banquet.