Tornado Relief Efforts Continue
Thursday, May 05, 2011

Last Wednesday, normal lines of severe weather rolled through Huntsville, Ala. With the weather quickly changing to individual super cells transforming into massive areas of level 6 extreme, it didn’t take long for controllers to evacuate the tower due to wind gusts reaching 75 mph (with 100 mph winds in some areas). Those at Huntsville ATCT (HSV) had no idea that most of these super cells now barreling through the area contained f3 and f4 tornados. The nuclear plant and main transmission lines were down, leaving north Alabama in darkness, including the air traffic control facility. This, and the airport, went to total back-up generators.

The day following the tornados is when those of HSV realized how severe the situation really was, and their fellow NATCA Brothers and Sisters wasted no time in coming to their aid. Birmingham (BHM) FacRep Scott Pressley took the ball in immediately coordinating relief for members affected. As HSV controllers remained busy at work in the tower, Pressley organized a N310TR, to be flown by ZTL VP Robert Oxenburger, loaded up with supplies.

HSV FacRep Steve Swisher was working east radar that day when Oxenburger came on the scope. “Everyone started smiling in the TRACON, kind of in disbelief, but I guess more so that we had people out there that were concerned enough about us that they were flying in stuff,” explained Swisher. Oxenburger had flown over charcoal lighters, flashlights, batteries, cases of water and loads of food, instantly resulting in a lifted mood of all members present. 

The assistance didn’t stop there, however. The next day, A80 FacRep Mike Ryan and Jackson ATCT (JAN) member Stephen Crumpton made a stop with even more supplies. Ryan appeared with an SUV stocked with food, water, and most importantly, four gas generators. Crumpton delivered 40 gallons of gasoline for the generators, traveling 320 miles to do so for these area residents, who at the time had no fuel available to them for about 40 miles in either direction. In response to the gracious actions, Swisher quickly contacted his executive board and determined the most needed controller families.

We received word that commercial power was returned to the facility Tuesday night, and the last member had his home power back on Wednesday, a week after the devestating storms. Thank you to everyone for their continued assistance!

The NATCA Disaster Relief Fund is continuing to be used to assist members affected by last week's events. Donations may be sent to the NATCA Relief Fund via PayPal,, using this e-mail address to make your donation:, or send a check to: NATCA Disaster Relief, 1325 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005.

Above/below: HSV FacRep Steve Swisher took annual leave and drove over
to greet Oxenburger at the FBO, where they then loaded up the truck.



Picture of the HSV break room after the second
shipment of food.

Left: Stephen Crumpton (JAN) delivers 40 gallons of gasoline
to HSV members.



Above, left to right: HSV member Jerry Schuler, FacRep Steve
Swisher, and A80 FacRep Mike Ryan and his wife Kim.