Awards Honor ATC Saves

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Air traffic controllers who helped out when pilots faced dangerous situations were honored this week at the annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association selects the award winners from nominees around the country. Among the winners: a team of South Florida air traffic controllers who helped a non-pilot land a King Air after the pilot died; a Kansas City controller who helped a Frontier Airlines crew return to the airport safely after a bird strike; and a Southern California controller who warned a SkyWest crew arriving into LAX about a non-squawking Navion that had strayed into the airspace. Click here for the complete story (PDF) of all nine winning events. The live ATC tapes from each event also are posted online, and they make interesting listening.

"The ability to think quickly and remain calm under pressure while maintaining situational awareness are all unique qualities that air traffic controllers and flight service station employees possess," NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said at the awards ceremony on Monday evening. "They all have a willingness to jump right in to resolve complex situations, offer a reassuring voice to those on the frequency and coordinate their efforts with other controllers." AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg presented 10 Flight Assist commendations to controllers from around the country who helped general aviation pilots in distress. "Even when the pilot is the only person physically in the aircraft, he or she is not alone," said Landsberg. "Air traffic controllers are incredible resources. All a pilot has to do is ask."