Ryan Williams, Anchorage Center
Second generation controller Ryan Williams has had several memorable days on the job at Anchorage Center (ZAN) since starting at the facility in 2006. But perhaps none like Dec. 29, 2012 when his skills were tested in assisting the pilot of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk (N4365L) that was headed to Wasilla, Alaska.
As this was Alaska, the list of challenges associated with the flight was substantial, and quite imposing:
- Pilot found himself stuck on top of an overcast layer.
- The four-seat, single engine aircraft was flying above the rugged Talkeetna Mountains.
- It was 5:45 p.m. local time in late December and therefore very dark.
- The windshield was frosting up and the pilot lacked de-icing equipment.
The pilot fully recognized the seriousness of his situation.
N4365L: Four three six five lima, I’m headed to Wasilla. I’m about thirty miles west of the field, at ten thousand feet, um, I’m in a little over my head I think.
Williams was able to radar identify the aircraft and provided a great deal of assistance, including weather reports, safe altitudes and reports from other pilots, including this one:
ASA190: Yeah I just thought I’d pass along a little bit of info for six five lima there, it looks real good towards Anchorage, um looks like there’s a overcast layer over towards over Wasilla. Maybe if he makes his way towards Anchorage he’ll be able to pick up the lights better.
Williams: November six five lima roger I also got another aircraft just coming out of Anchorage. I’ll get a few pilot reports for you and we’re gonna try to see if Anchorage Approach has anyone in the Wasilla area that can get a better report for you.
Above all else, Williams provided the pilot with a calm, confident voice, one that reassured him he was not alone, he was clearly visible on radar and that he had someone keeping an eye on his situation.
With Ryan’s help, the pilot was able to find Wasilla and continue on to safety.
N4365L: Four three six five lima would like to resume VFR. I have Wasilla in sight. Thank you very much for your help.
Williams: November six five lima, you’re welcome, maintain VFR, and if you’d like you can remain on this beacon code, I can give you advisories to Wasilla.
N4365L: It’s pretty clear right now I think I’m good. I’d like to buy you dinner if I could.
Williams: Appreciate that but not necessary. November six five lima squawk VFR and change to advisory frequency approved, if you need anything else uh frequency one three three point seven.
N4365L: Thank you sir, uh squawking VFR.
To listen to the highlights of the audio recording of this event, please click HERE.
A transcript of this recording can be found HERE.