Wichita, Kan., Air Traffic Control Tower
If the name of the award winner atop this page sounds familiar, it should.
Mark Goldstein won the inaugural Archie League Medal of Safety Award for the Central Region in 2004. He initiated his own investigation of a landing aircraft’s report of foreign object debris (FOD) on the runway, eventually finding out which flight had lost the parts and working to reach the pilots, who safely landed the plane after declaring an emergency. It was Goldstein’s conscientiousness and also his experience as both an air traffic controller and a pilot that helped him in this situation and has also served his facility well by making numerous suggestions to pilots in distress and helping many controllers who needed assistance.
On Nov.18 last year, Goldstein’s experience was put to good use again.
Goldstein was working the tower’s local control position. A Piper Cherokee PA32 was inbound to Runway 19 Right from the northwest. Due to heavy traffic on both runways, Goldstein instructed the Cherokee to make a 360-degree turn and follow the traffic on short final approach to Runway 19 Left.
While listening to the pilot read back the landing clearance, acknowledging the instruction, Goldstein could hear an alarm going off in the background. As a pilot, he knew the familiar sound almost instantly. It was the plane’s landing gear alarm. Goldstein immediately contacted the pilot and advised him to check if the landing gear was down. It was not. The pilot had forgotten to lower the gear due to his high workload in setting up for the landing.
With the gear safely down, the pilot soon landed the Cherokee without incident. He then radioed the tower and thanked Goldstein for his assistance.
“Had it not been for Mark and his experience, the plane would have landed without its landing gear and who knows what could have happened then,” said Wichita Tower NATCA facility representative Pat Pelkowski.
"Mark Goldstein has done it again. With a pilot hurtling towards the runway with his landing gear up, Mark's quick thinking and attention to detail made the difference between a safe landing and potential catastrophe. Controllers have a great deal of responsibility when they strap on their headsets each day, but saving lives is their sacred trust. Mark's expertise in the tower prevented this incident from making front-page news. Controllers like him are a great example of the difference NATCA members make in the lives of air travelers each and every day. Mark is a fantastic controller and winning this award is a tremendous accomplishment representative of the fantastic members working traffic every day in NATCA's Central Region."
- John Tune, Central Regional Vice President
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