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March 23, 2016

Contact: Sarah McCann, 315-796-1560

NATCA to Honor Members’ Finest Work at Annual Awards Banquet

LAS VEGAS – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) will honor air traffic controllers who performed life-saving flight assists in the previous year at the 12th annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards Banquet to be held tonight, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Named for the first air traffic controller, the Archie League Medal of Safety Award honors NATCA members who have performed above and beyond the call of duty under extraordinary circumstances. Although each of these remarkable individuals will say they were “just doing their job,” NATCA pays tribute to their heroism with this prestigious award.

“It’s an honor to represent and recognize these real-life heroes,” says NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “Each honoree was faced with a unique situation in which their ability to think quickly and remain calm under pressure was tested. These flight assists saved lives and epitomize our members’ relentless commitment to safety.”

The honorees include two Central Florida TRACON controllers who guided a pilot with engine trouble to a safe landing, after which the pilot narrowly escaped the aircraft with his son and his dog before it burst into flames; a Seattle TRACON controller who kept a panicked pilot calm throughout a harrowing situation during which the pilot thought he had lost control of his aircraft and was headed towards a mountainous range; and two Dallas Love Field Tower controllers who guided a pilot to a safe landing after his plane had a complete electrical failure, mid-flight.

“The work our members do every day to keep the flying public safe is nothing short of heroic,” says NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. “But when the call for help comes, air traffic controllers roll up their sleeves and get to work without hesitation. The 15 air traffic controllers we will honor tonight demonstrated the very best skill and examples of professionalism.”

The awards ceremony will stream live on NATCA’s website, beginning at 7:30 p.m. PDT. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will deliver keynote remarks.

The 2016 Archie League Medal of Safety Award winners are:

Alaskan Region: Ronald Sparks and Mike Thomas, Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center.

Central Region: Brett Rolofson and Liam Keeney, Kansas City Air Route Traffic Control Center.

Eastern Region: Jeffrey Schuler, New York Terminal Radar Approach Control.

Great Lakes Region: David Kilgus, Columbus Air Traffic Control Tower.

New England Region: Joseph J. White, Providence Air Traffic Control Tower.

Northwest Mountain Region: Joshua J. Pate, Seattle Terminal Radar Approach Control.

Southern Region: Donald Blatnik III and Kenneth Scheele, Central Florida Terminal Radar Approach Control.

Southwest Region: Wade H. Martin IV and Nick Valadez, Dallas Love Field Air Traffic Control Tower.

Western Pacific Region: Ryan Nines, William L. Hoppe, Jr. and Luis Ramirez, Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control.

Please visit the NATCA website for more information about the award winners, including audio recordings and written accounts of the events.