MEMBER ALERT: AOPA is closed today, March 5, due to inclement weather. We will reopen March 6 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.
March 8, 2013
By AOPA Communications staff
Five air traffic controllers have been awarded “Flight Assist Commendations” by the Air Safety Institute of the AOPA Foundation for service they rendered to pilots who were facing troubles while aloft during 2012.
Each of the controllers was recognized for guiding pilots to safety who were struggling with airborne situations that included an on-board fire, a loss of instruments, hypoxia, and the danger of high terrain.
The awards were presented March 6, during the annual conference of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association in Las Vegas.
“These controllers exemplify the high standards that we’ve come to rely upon,’’ said Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Foundation. “The U.S. has the busiest and safest airspace in the world, but periodically pilots do face tremendous life-threatening challenges. In many cases it’s been these controllers who made the difference between a non-event and a tragedy.”
Controllers Tony Hanel and Ashley Curtsinger were commended for assisting a Beechcraft Baron with an on-board fire. The airplane eventually ditched in the Gulf of Mexico and the controllers coordinated the rescue of the pilot and passenger.
In a March 2012 incident, controller Rosalina Serai alerted a pilot “who was under enormous distress while operating under instrument conditions, deviating off course and heading towards rising terrain.” Serai directed the aircraft to another airport, where it landed safely.
In a May 2012 instance, John Herlien directed a pilot who was experiencing hypoxia to descend. The pilot reported feeling better at a lower altitude and the flight ended safely.
And in October, controller Steve Clark assisted a pilot flying in instrument conditions whose Cessna 182 aircraft experienced an avionics failure. “Controller Clark handled the emergency in an exemplary manner by providing no-gyro vectors to several airports until suitable landing conditions were found,” the award states. The pilot landed safely.
The AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute is dedicated exclusively to providing continuing pilot education and safety programs for general aviation. It is funded by donations from individual pilots and organizations, which support the cause of improved general aviation safety.
Safety and Education,
Actor, pilot, and general aviation advocate Harrison Ford was hospitalized March 5 after sustaining injuries in an airplane accident at a California golf course, according to multiple news reports.
An aviation student from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, is the 2015 recipient of the $3,000 AOPA Women in Aviation, International student pilot scholarship, AOPA announced March 5.
Controller David Bricker of Albuquerque Center assisted a Cessna 172 pilot that encountered moderate precipitation, icing, and turbulence in mountainous terrain.
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