Richard Young Celebrates 45 Years in the Air Traffic Control Profession
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

 Richard Young and wife, Judy
Richard Young, an Indianapolis Center (ZID) controller recently celebrated his 45th anniversary with the Agency on May 18. Young, who turns 70 in November, Young began his career in 1967, prior to the “age 56” rule, and is therefore exempt from forced retirement. A member of PATCO during the strike in 1981, Young was able to win reinstatement after a two-year court battle in his favor. He is a charter member of NATCA and is an On the Job Training Instructor (OJTI), having trained countless controllers—ZID FacRep Jim Larson included.

On May 21, ZID members celebrated his epic achievement at the facility with two plaques, a proclamation from Congressman Carson, cake, and an article in ZID’s newsletter (below).

“I have never worked a day in my life”

What do you do when you've been controlling air traffic for 45 years? You keep on keeping the skies safe.

Richard Young, Air Traffic Controller for Indianapolis Center (ZID), celebrated 45 years as a controller on May 18, 2015. Richard came to the FAA in May of 1970, after serving three years in the Army.

When asked how a young man from Milwaukee ended up in Indianapolis, Richard said, “rather than wait to be drafted, I signed up for a three-year stint with the Army and was allowed to select my MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) and chose Helicopter Maintenance.”

Richard scored highly on an aptitude test, and while he was waiting to attend helicopter maintenance school, he and 99 other soldiers were given the opportunity to attend air traffic controller training at Kessler AFB in Biloxi, Miss.

The Army was graduating 30 air traffic controllers a week from September to February in 1967. Those with the last names of A through G were sent to Vietnam, while H through Z were sent to Germany. In Germany, Richard was an air traffic controller in a small unit on the Czechoslovakian border, before being sent to Vietnam for the last 13 months of his time in the Army.

After returning to the states, Richard saw a television commercial asking military veterans with air traffic controller experience to call the FAA because they were hiring. Richard called the FAA and was offered a job in Minneapolis, Chicago, or Indianapolis. He chose Indianapolis because it had the warmest climate and held the Indianapolis 500. Richard started work at ZID on May 18, 1970. Upon his arrival, he was pleased to find several of his fellow controllers from the Army were already working there.
Acting Air Traffic Manager Kim Kelly and NATCA’s ZID FacRep James Larson marked Richard’s anniversary with two plaques. The veteran controller also received a proclamation from U.S. Congressman Andre Carson acknowledging his 45-year service in the FAA.

After eight presidents, 16 FAA administrators, and numerous Indianapolis Center air traffic managers, Richard Young is still controlling traffic. Richard says "if you find a job that you love, you will never work a day in your life, and I have never worked a day in my life."

After the festivities to celebrate his 45 years of controlling air traffic, Richard went back down to the control room and plugged in.

A huge congratulations to Richard Young! Thank you for your years of dedicated service to NATCA and the air traffic control profession.