The NATCA Podcast

The NATCA Podcast

Informing and connecting with the members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, who work to safely handle 70,000 flights daily and nearly one billion passengers annually.

Episodes

July 25, 2022 21 min
National Safety Committee Chair Chrissy Padgett talks about the upcoming Communicating For Safety (CFS) Conference, union activism, and the importance of working together. She talks about how NATCA members’ day-to-day work is affected by the discussions and collaboration that takes place at CFS, and what she’s looking forward to most about the conference for 2022. “Everything we do is part of that union spirit — that is, we work ...
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At approximately 8:30 p.m. on March 9, 2021, Greensboro ATCT (GSO) member Noah Walker was working the approaches into Greensboro, N.C., from the tower cab, as the positions were combined and the radar position was moved to the tower. Walker was lining up a Lifeguard aircraft to the final for Runway 14. Just before he instructed the pilot to contact the tower, he noticed lights that appeared to be another aircraft in conflict. Wal...
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By Sept. 15, 2020, six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, air carrier traffic volume was greatly reduced, presenting opportunities for many general aviation pilots - and students, with their instructors - to do takeoffs and landings at major airports. One such flight, a Mooney M20 piloted by a student with an instructor, departed runway 1 right at Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD). Just a short time later, as the Moon...
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On a Thursday afternoon in September 2020 in the Prairie Area of Kansas City Center (ZKC), just six months into the COVID pandemic, the facility was staffed with small teams of controllers working their shifts together for safety but still handling busy traffic volumes. ZKC member Ingrid “Inga” Owens was working a Yak 18T that was headed north toward Nebraska from Texas. The pilot encountered two big problems. First, he was flyin...
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Numerous challenges presented themselves on the midnight shift of Aug. 19, 2020, with an inbound FedEx Boeing 767 on approach to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that had a retracted left main landing gear. LAX members Jeremy Hroblak, Scott Moll, and C.J. Wilson, through their skill and professionalism, were able to address each of the challenges, contributing to the most successful outcome possible. For their efforts, the t...
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Houston TRACON (I90) member Joe Wright was working the Thursday evening arrival streams into Houston Hobby (HOU) and nearby Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base (EFD) when the pilot of a Piper Cherokee struggled to stay on the localizer for EFD and then lost his gyroscope in IFR conditions. The pilot worked to get back onto the localizer, but soon descended into a tight, steep turn. Wright saw his altitude drop rapidly, starting from...
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“Eight Hotel Romeo is descending, I’ve lost my cabin pressure.” The pilot of a Socata TBM-850 single-turboprop aircraft was flying north toward Burlington, Vt. Boston Center (ZBW) controller Casey Allan was conducting on-the-job training. But what first seemed like a normal flight in their airspace soon turned serious with the onset of hypoxia signs. Allan took over the sector. “I believe he got up to 33,000 feet. He climbed pretty...
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Matt Wyrick, who is in the sixth year of his FAA career, all at Indianapolis Center (ZID), grew up immersed in aviation. His father, Allan, was a longtime pilot for NetJets. Wyrick said hypoxia came up in some discussions between them. That, along with his training, prepared him to successfully assist the pilot of a Cessna 441 Conquest II who was exhibiting signs of hypoxia while over south-central Ohio en route to Youngstown, Ohio...
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Fort Worth Center (ZFW) air traffic controller Randy Wilkins has worked enough general aviation traffic in his 13 years there to know that while he and his colleagues aim to provide the best support they can and the most information possible to pilots who encounter difficulty, ultimately, it’s up to the pilot to finish off a safe landing. But Wilkins is passionate about training and developing his base of knowledge in as many diff...
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In Part 3 of their four-part conversation, NATCA member and experienced pilot Jamie Sanders (Denver/Centennial ATCT, APA) and Major Katie Cook, a third-generation military aviator and the first female Navy Blue Angels pilot, focused on pilot-controller communications. “I would say that ATC and talking on the radios is way harder than flying an actual airplane,” Cook said. “I know that sounds weird, but being able to manipulate th...
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NATCA charter member Brad Burtner retired from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Jan. 3, 2008 after three decades of working traffic at four different facilities. Like many other retirees, Burtner headed to Florida, but he didn’t hang up his headset or put away his Union membership card. Instead, two days later, Burtner started a new chapter as a Federal Contract Tower (FCT) controller at Pompano Beach ATCT (PMP). Four ...
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In honor of Women's History Month, NATCA is presenting the second of a four-part conversation between two incredibly inspiring women in the world of aviation. NATCA’s own Jamie Sanders, an air traffic controller at Denver/Centennial ATCT (APA), who is also an experienced pilot, interviewed Major Katie Cook, a third-generation military aviator and the first female pilot in the storied history of the great Blue Angels team of the...
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In 1929, the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce dubbed Wichita, Kan., the “Air Capital of the World.” Nearly a century later, with a world-leading total of aircraft manufactured, it could be argued that Wichita’s busy-and-getting-busier airspace above six airports and McConnell Air Force Base makes it a strong candidate to keep that title. That presents clear situational awareness responsibilities and unique challenges for the air tr...
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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is very honored to introduce the start of a four-part conversation between two incredibly inspiring women in the world of aviation. NATCA’s own Jamie Sanders, an air traffic controller at Denver Centennial Tower (APA), who is also an experienced pilot, recently sat down for a virtual interview of Major Katie Cook, the first female pilot in the storied history of the great Bl...
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In our last episode (Episode 27) of The NATCA Podcast, we brought you the story of Fort Worth Center (ZFW) air traffic controllers and NATCA members Brian Cox, Larry Bell, and Colin McKinnon. The trio worked together as a team to help pilot and flight instructor Anise Shapiro and her student, Jouni Uusitalo when the engine failed on his Piper PA-46 Malibu halfway into a 75-minute flight over West Texas. For their efforts, the contr...
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Halfway into a nearly 75-minute flight last spring to Graham Municipal Airport (RPH), 80 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Texas, pilot and flight instructor Anise Shapiro, in a Piper PA-46 Malibu, lost the engine for the first time in her 23 years of flying. At 14,500 feet and needing quick options, she declared an emergency to Fort Worth Center (ZFW) NATCA member Brian Cox. Onboard with Shapiro were her student pilot, Jouni Uusital...
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Late on a mid-summer evening, over the ocean and in the fog, pilot Lihan Bao was flying a short final ILS approach to Runway 24 at Martha’s Vineyard (MVY), her second time flying into that airport. The tower had just closed for the night. Shortly after her VOR receiver began to swing left to right, Bao saw a group of bright lights which distracted her. She turned left a bit to try to go back to the approach course but it didn’t wor...
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Duffy Fainer holds three skydiving world records and has encountered eight parachute malfunctions and one emergency ocean landing in 46 years of jumps. His first in-flight emergency in 15 years of flying airplanes, late in the afternoon of Wednesday, April 22, 2020, gave him a different kind of feeling. But he credits the calm, professional, expert handling provided by San Diego ATCT (SAN) NATCA members Michelle “Shelly” Bruner and...
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The weather conditions in Alaska are often poor, but they’re highly changeable. This can lead to situations where a pilot can encounter difficulty, especially if they’re not able to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Alaskan Region air traffic controllers are keenly aware of this each time they plug in for a shift. “I’ve seen situations where a pilot gets IMC for 30 seconds, they call up needing help, and they’re o...
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It was like most any other ordinary summer afternoon in Pensacola, with a lot of weather, when Marcus Troyer plugged in for his shift at Pensacola TRACON (P31) shortly after 12:30 p.m. EDT. In the skies to the west, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Brian Hedges was the pilot and aircraft commander on an ordinary training mission in a newly-converted MH65E helicopter. But a short time later, Troyer and Hedges were joined in a search a...
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