Two Tri-State Air Traffic Controllers Honored For Outstanding Service

By: Randy Yohe Email
By: Randy Yohe Email

WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When you're flying, you want to believe that your safety is in good hands.

For air traffic controllers who go above and beyond, there's something called the Archie Award. It recognizes extraordinary, often lifesaving, efforts by the men and women working our airport towers.

The award is given in regions. For the Eastern region that covers West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, there are dozens of airports, and even more air traffic controllers.

Despite those odds, this year's big winners come from a small but vital airport in the Tri-State.

Mike Chambers and Clint Clifton will soon head to Las Vegas, where they will know a little something about beating the odds.

On the night of October 12th, veteran pilot Bob Taylor was flying a Piper Cherokee from Lima, Ohio, back to his home base in Greensboro, North Carolina.

He was cruising over Southern Ohio when the tower at Tri-State Airport picked up a distress call.

Taylor said, "My engine was choking and shaking the whole plane. I followed protocol and contacted the Huntington tower."

Chambers and Clifton were the air traffic controllers on duty.

Chambers said, "He was very worried. He said he was in serious trouble and had to land now.... He said all he saw was trees and hills, and he didn't want to crash into the trees."

Clifton said, "We used our radar to scout out landing sites. I told him above anything else, we would stick with him every second until he made a safe landing."

Bob was able to land safely at the Tiny Rhodes Airport in Jackson, Ohio. He gives all the credit to the two men in that Tri-state Tower.

For their quick, precise calming action with Bob Taylor, Mike Chambers and Clint Clifton will be flown to Las Vegas in March, where they will receive the prestigious National Air Traffic Controller Association's Archie League Medal of Safety Award.

Clifton said, "Out of hundreds of controllers from big airports like New York and Philadelphia, for little Huntington to be recognized, it's a great honor.

Taylor is eternally grateful. He said, "They saved my life. I sent them a box of good cigars around Christmastime, and I think they'll get a box for many Christmases to come."

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