2 Air Traffic Controllers Honored for Safety

When air traffic controllers show calm under pressure and resolve complex situations in the air, they're awarded the Archie League Medal of Safety.

Two air traffic controllers at Dallas-Fort Worth Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities at DFW International Airport did just that on Dec. 7, 2009.

Natasha Hodge and Douglas Wynkoop were able to help pilot Scott Spencer when he started having trouble with his experimental aircraft.

Hodge was working her certification ride when Spencer was inbound to Fort Worth's Meacham Airport and went into distress.

Hodge worked with Spencer to try to land at Meacham, but with Global Positioning Satellite problems and a loss of power he was unable to land. To make matters worse, deteriorating weather conditions made it impossible for Spencer to attempt anything but an instrument approach.

"The weather was pretty bad that day," Hodge said. "We just tried to get him to stay level, fly straight ahead."

While assisting Spencer, Hodge continued to advise nearby aircraft.

Wynkoop, a 27-year veteran controller, then stepped in and directed the distressed aircraft away from an antennae in its path and offered Spencer multiple landing options.

Eventually, low on fuel, Spencer decided to land at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. Wynkoop alerted Navy Fort Worth the aircraft needed to land.

Combined, Hodge and Wynkoop worked with Spencer for 51 minutes to ensure his safe landing at NASJRB.

"It's our job to stay calm and keep them calm and get them on the ground, " Hodge said.

Hodge passed her certification to become an air traffic controller.

The pair received the southwest region's sixth annual Archie League Awards on Monday.

More: Sixth Annual Archie League Awards - Southwest Region, Southwest Region Transcript

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