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2020 Archie League Medal of Safety Award Winners

2020 – Winners of the 16th Annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards, to be honored on May 26, 2021 at NATCA’s 18th Biennial Convention in Houston:

Alaskan Region: Matthew Freidel, Anchorage Center (ZAN), and John Newcomb, Anchorage TRACON (A11)
John Newcomb, left, and Matthew Freidel

On the night of April 9, 2019, recently certified professional controller (CPC) Gabriel Zeifman was alone in the tower cab at Juneau International Airport (JNU). The pilot of a 1979 Mooney M20J, N201N, was on one of the last legs of a cross-country trip from his home in Hartford, Conn. He departed from Fairbanks, Alaska, and was near completion of the four hour, eight minute flight through unfamiliar terrain.

Central Region: Jordan Haldeman and Sarah Owens, Kansas City Center (ZKC)

On Aug. 14, 2018, Andy Crabtree was working the Controller in Charge position (CIC) in the Flint Hills Area at Kansas City Center (ZKC). At approximately noon local time, the controller working Sector 62 noticed a possible problem with an aircraft under his control.

Central Region: Daniel Hittner, Hunter Rubin, and James Smart, Wichita ATCT (ICT)
Left: Daniel Hittner; Top Right: Hunter Rubin; Lower Right: James Smart

On Aug. 14, 2018, Andy Crabtree was working the Controller in Charge position (CIC) in the Flint Hills Area at Kansas City Center (ZKC). At approximately noon local time, the controller working Sector 62 noticed a possible problem with an aircraft under his control.

Eastern Region: Mark Dzindzio and Raymond Hanson, Potomac TRACON (PCT)
Left: Mark Dzindzio; Right: Raymond Hanson

It was a routine takeoff from Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, N.Y., for N142KR on Dec. 13, 2018. The single-engine 2009 Mooney Acclaim Type S (M20) departed Runway 16 after obtaining clearance from New York TRACON (N90), which had coordinated with HPN ATCT on a 90-degree left hand turn and a climb to 3,000 feet.

Great Lakes Region: Brittany Jones and Bob Obma, Indianapolis Center (ZID)

On Feb. 6, 2019, Dr. Bernard Heckman and his wife were flying their Cessna T210N (N5132C) from Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Md., to Lake Cumberland Regional Airport in Somerset, Ky. They were on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan and were flying in high terrain (037 minimum IFR altitude) with many obstacles. The weather had started to deteriorate.

New England Region: Dave Chesley, Boston TRACON (A90)

Instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions were in place across a large area of southeastern Massachusetts on June 24, 2018, affecting air traffic of all types and altitudes.

Northwest Mountain Region: Byron Andrews, Joshua Fuller, Brian Hach, Ryan Jimenez, and Michael Sellman, Seattle Center (ZSE)

Midday on Saturday, April 6, 2019, near the border of Washington and Idaho, Shane Daily was piloting his two-seat, single-engine Lancair 320 when he encountered instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) while flying visual flight rules (VFR). Daily was not instrument flight rules (IFR) certified.

Southern Region: Marcus Troyer, Pensacola TRACON (P31)

On Feb. 23, 2019, a single-engine Socata TBM 930 (N897TF) departed Paducah, Ky., en route to Houston. But about 50 miles south of Paducah, the pilot experienced problems in controlling the aircraft and was not responding to air traffic controllers. 

Southwest Region: John (Randy) Wilkins, Fort Worth Center (ZFW)

On Feb. 23, 2019, a single-engine Socata TBM 930 (N897TF) departed Paducah, Ky., en route to Houston. But about 50 miles south of Paducah, the pilot experienced problems in controlling the aircraft and was not responding to air traffic controllers. 

Southwest Region: Larry Bell, Brian Cox, and Colin McKinnon, Fort Worth Center (ZFW)
Larry Bell (left)
Brian Cox (bottom right)
Colin McKinnon (top right)

On Feb. 23, 2019, a single-engine Socata TBM 930 (N897TF) departed Paducah, Ky., en route to Houston. But about 50 miles south of Paducah, the pilot experienced problems in controlling the aircraft and was not responding to air traffic controllers. 

Western Pacific Region: Michelle Bruner and Jamie Macomber (SAN)

Those familiar with the Los Angeles Basin area of Southern California are used to plentiful sunshine. But icing? That’s a rarity.

Federal Contract Tower: Brad Burtner, Pompano Beach (PMP)

Those familiar with the Los Angeles Basin area of Southern California are used to plentiful sunshine. But icing? That’s a rarity.

President’s Award Winners: Andrew Rice and Ryan Schile, Chicago O’Hare ATCT (ORD)

On March 1, 2019, after noon CST, Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) certified professional controller (CPC) Ryan Schile was working third local control and was departing aircraft off of Runway 10-Left at intersection DD. Schile was also working the arrivals that were landing on 10-Right and 10-Center. He worked them back across the runway he was departing to the terminal area.

“Needless to say, he was a little busy,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said in introducing the story to the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet on Sept. 18 at Communicating For Safety.

Schile issued a departure clearance to an Envoy Air twin-jet ERJ-145, with an initial heading of 100 and a takeoff clearance. This heading paralleled the departure runways and the arrival runways so there would be no conflict. The pilot of the ERJ-145 read back the correct heading and began takeoff roll.

Once airborne, for an unknown reason, the ERJ-145 began a hard-left turn, placing that aircraft in a collision course with an American Airlines Boeing 737-800, which was departing Runway 9-Right. Schile quickly recognized the potential for a collision and instructed the ERJ-145 to stop his climb immediately.

Subsequently, Schile issued an immediate turn to the right to a heading of 140.

Working on the other side of the airport was fellow ORD CPC Andrew Rice, who was working the American 737. He also observed the impending collision and issued the aircraft an immediate left-hand turn and a 070 heading. Seeing that was not enough, he instructed the aircraft to continue its left-hand turn on a 360 heading to pull these aircraft apart.

The Federal Aviation Administration measured the closest proximity of the two aircraft at .23 nautical miles and 100 feet.

“And that is only because these two controllers acted so quickly to pull these airplanes apart,” Rinaldi said. “Their actions on that day saved hundreds of lives.”

Schile, upon receiving the President’s Award with Rice at the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet, described the way he felt immediately after the event and the knowledge of just how close these two aircraft got before they were saved. It’s not something any controller wants to experience, his words indicated.

“Andy and I are deeply grateful, honored, and completely humbled to receive this recognition,” Schile said. “But respectfully, we hope to hell we never receive it again.”

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

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

Honorable Mention

ALASKAN REGION
Jonathan Eisenmayer, FAI
Mike Myers, A11
Monique Stowers, MRI

CENTRAL REGION
Jason Cowden, ZKC
Andrew Cullen, ZKC
Michael Gardner, ZKC
Dale Turner, ZKC
Caryn Truscinski, ZKC
Jeff Volski, ZKC
Andrea Wolf, STL

EASTERN REGION
Jeff Anderson, PCT
Bryan Carroll, PCT  
Sunil Chatani, PCT
Jose Cruz, PCT
Mathias Fridgen, PCT
Joe Mash, PCT
Sean Mueller, PCT
Adam Olshanski, PCT
Richard Quiggins, PCT
Andy Rhodes, PCT
Robert Smolen, N90 
Casey Whittaker, PCT

GREAT LAKES REGION 
Randall Anderson III, ORD  
Richard Capizzi, ZOB
Curtis Josefick, ZOB
Jerah Kavoosi, FCM
Matthew Laiter, MDW 
John Lesnak, ZOB
Anthony Lucia, MKE
Michael McCabe, ORD
Nate Miller, MDW
Jon Rappe, FCM
Jacob Reddin, MKE
Alan Thomas, ZOB
Sean Watson, ZOB

NEW ENGLAND REGION 
Carlos Lebron-Thachar, BOS 
Elisa Muise, ZBW
Lisa Orff, PWM
Scott Trafton, A90

NORTHWEST MOUNTAIN REGION
Matt Barsness, S46
Royce Bockelman, ZDV
Candace Bond, S46
Kim Brooks, S46
Andrew Drury, S46
James Ferguson, HIO
Steve Hernandez, S46
Nick Hoggan, S46
Kyle Hoover, S46
Wayne Hygema, S46
Jeffery Principe, BIL
Amitesh Sami, S46
Matt Sharp, S46 
Derrek Shroyer, BIL
Eric Steffen, ZLC
Jake Zakrzewski, ZDV

SOUTHERN REGION 
Kelsey Barfield, BHM
Paul Behan, ZJX
Eric Brake, BHM
Clint Cottrell, A80
Bryan Hamm, ILM
Travis Hans, DAB
Joe Koziuk, DAB
Taylor Ledger, ZMA
Brian Liddle, A80
Elena Nash, SRQ
Don Nikolich, ZME
Craig Oldis, SDF
Adam Prinz, CVG
Aaron Rathburn, A80
Ryan Roberson, SAV
Mike Ryan, A80
Joe Vargo, A80
Kevin Vaughn, ZJX

SOUTHWEST REGION 
Joel Brown, BTR
Crystal Lingle, ELP
Ben Parker, ZFW
Bryan Roberts, ZFW
Tim Schneider, ZHU
Frank Ward, ZFW
Daniel Watson, ELP 

WESTERN PACIFIC REGION 
Melissa Benge, SCT
Melanie Chipkin, SCT
Christopher Finley, ZUA
Michael Gottfried, BFL
Ian Lewis, SCT
Stewart Merrell, PAO
Annie Pen, CMA
Maurice Pitts, LAX
Wendy Postema, LAX
Joseph Seimas, FAT
Kyle Shaw, LAX
Adam Yudman, SCT

Photo Album

View our photo album from the awards banquet and CFS 2019.

Video: Highlights Compilation
Video: The Complete Awards Banquet
Video: Opening Remarks by NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer Teri Bristol