"Controller" Lost, Virtually Revered

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"Pilots" from all over the world are expected to converge on the controlled airports in Poland on May 28 in a six-hour effort to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis victims. Each landing will accumulate points toward the cause and the tougher the flying, the more money will be raised. The more adventurous will be heading to smaller Polish airports where non-radar ATC services are in effect (there's a two-point bonus for those) while others might be content to do touch and goes at the country's biggest airports in Warsaw and Krakow. And an army of controllers will be waiting for them, doing their best to manage the traffic but not terribly concerned about crashes. For while the fundraiser is real enough (it's in honor of a young Polish "controller" who died a year ago of CF), all participants will be members of the Virtual Air Traffic Simulation (Vatsim) Network and the only things crashing will be hard drives. The "PapaGolf Fly-In" is being organized by those who "worked" with Pawel Grzadowski, who, despite his disease, progressed through the ranks of Vatsim to become a well-respected virtual controller. Grzadowski soldiered on, looking after traffic in his sector with humor and good will until one day he disappeared off everyone's radar. It was two weeks before a relative logged on and told his online colleagues of his death and the struggle he'd endured with the disease to get through all the training.