Jesse Anderson, La Verne Brackett Tower
On December 7, 2014, Jesse Anderson, a seven-year veteran air traffic controller at Brackett Field ATCT, was working a local control position when N1120Z was inbound from the east. Anderson, who was working two other aircraft at the time, told the pilot of the Cessna Skyhawk the ATIS information when he requested it, rather than having the pilot switch frequencies.
After, Anderson realized the Skyhawk pilot turned towards Cable Airport, a private, uncontrolled airport four miles northeast of Brackett, putting him and other pilots flying in the airspace in danger. Anderson quickly called N1120Z and told him to turn away from the airport, while giving traffic alerts. During this time, the pilot inadvertently joined the downwind for Cable and was in conflict with all three aircraft who were in the pattern.
Anderson: Cessna 20Z, traffic 12 o’clock one mile opposite direction, altitude indicating 2,300.
N1120Z: Altitude 2,000, uh, 2,300.
Anderson: Cessna 20Z, traffic passing off your left, traffic alert 2,300 eastbound, type unknown.
N1120Z: Traffic in sight, 20Z.
Anderson observed N1120Z turn northbound and told him to turn east instead, away from the other aircraft. Once established on a course away from Cable, Anderson then told the Skyhawk pilot to turn right on a suggested heading of 260. Once he observed N1120Z turn east, he told the pilot to continue his right turn and finally got him flying west towards Brackett again.
The pilot was now on the right track to land at Brackett Airport. However, he needed to climb to avoid terrain, so Anderson quickly issued him a safe altitude. As he was climbing, the pilot called Anderson and, sounding distressed, told him he was directly facing the sun and could not see the airport. Anderson swiftly and effectively worked the traffic and assisted the disoriented Skyhawk pilot. He continued to talk to him in a calm voice to help the pilot reorient himself and get the airport in sight.
N1120Z: 20Z, uh, up at 2,500, I missed the runway; I cannot see the runway because the sun is in my eyes.
Anderson: Cessna 20Z, continue westbound, you’re lined for Cable airport, just continue westbound, do you have the 210 freeway in sight?
N1120Z: I see this, Runway 2-4, it says Cable, Cable runway?
Anderson: Cessna 20Z, affirmative, that’s Cable, just continue westbound, continue on that heading.
N1120Z: Continue heading, 20Z.
N1120Z: May I turn back on 2-6, Brackett, 20Z?
Anderson: Cessna 20Z, just continue that heading for Brackett, just go fly straight ahead on that current heading.
N1120Z: Oh I see I missed…oh I, thank you, thank you, thank you.
N1120Z finally found the airport and safely landed. After landing, the pilot was audibly upset, scared, and had accidentally turned the wrong way off the runway. Anderson continued to direct the pilot to where he needed to be.
Anderson: Cessna 20Z, you can turn right at Echo, that’s the taxiway in front of you, cross the yellow hold bars, then contact ground 125.0.
N1120Z: Okay, turning right here, 20Z.