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

May 28, 2021 26 min
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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When Ray Hanson sat down with fellow Potomac TRACON (PCT) controller Mark Dzindzio to assist Piper PA-28 pilot Karl Muller, who was having difficulty navigating in IFR conditions above the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia, Hanson applied the full breadth of knowledge he has acquired from 13 years as a controller and nearly a quarter of a century as a pilot himself. It wasn’t until a couple of days after helping Muller out of ...
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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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At Kansas City Center (ZKC), air traffic controllers on position have a list available to them of fellow controllers at work who are also pilots. If needed, those controllers can be brought to the area to assist a pilot in distress, including things like reviewing emergency checklists. The pilot of a Piper PA-28, flying in instrument flight rules in February 2020, needed help and the controller on the other end of the microphone ...
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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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As Seattle Center (ZSE) member Josh Fuller’s shift was ending on the Saturday afternoon before Thanksgiving in 2019, a supervisor from Area C walked through Area B urgently looking for anyone with pilot experience. A VFR-rated Cessna 182 Skylane pilot in far northern Idaho, Tim Bendickson, had departed Boundary County Airport (65S) on what was supposed to be a 40-minute flight to the southwest back to his home airport in Priest Riv...
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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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During any normal shift in Area 2 of Indianapolis Center (ZID) on a mid-March Saturday afternoon, assisting the pilot of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk who encountered icing conditions would have required the same knowledge, calm professionalism, detailed checklist of tasks, and supreme focus that experienced ZID NATCA members Brittany Jones and Bob Obma bring to work. But this particular Saturday afternoon shift, on March 21, 2020, was the...
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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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Ep21: NATCA Runway Safety/RWSL Representative Bridget Singratanakul (Gee) by NATCA National Office
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NATCA Charitable Foundation (NCF) President Corrie Conrad (Portland, Ore., ATCT, PDX) reflects on the 25th anniversary of NCF. She talks about the great work being done by member volunteers, the efforts put toward meeting the challenge of growing NCF, and the great personal rewards of donating time, money, and energy to the Foundation. "It's a labor of love," she says. "I knew this would make my heart whole."
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Just a couple of weeks after open heart surgery to implant a new prosthetic valve in place of his failing bicuspid aortic valve, longtime Fresno ATCT (FAT) FacRep Jerry O'Gorman says he is feeling great and already well on the road to recovery, anxious to regain his medical and return to the facility. With the love of his wife, Cara, and three young children, a team of great medical professionals, and the incredible support of ...
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July 24, 2019 14 min
Our NATCA Family has lost 16 members in the last several years to suicide. The latest was Crystal Joy Kendzierski, the FacRep at Tulsa Riverside ATCT (RVS), which has hit our membership, and particularly the Southwest Region, very hard. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for all ages. Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide. This is the type of tragedy that the NATCA family has unfortunat...
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