ISP Member in Blizzard: "You gotta go to work, you gotta go to work."
Thursday, February 21, 2013
After storm, ramp up to ISP.
Friday night, Feb. 8, the winter nor'easter storm, also known as Winter Storm Nemo, hit the East Coast dropping several feet of snow, and in some areas breaking snowfall records. While many airports were closed, Islip Tower (ISP) was able to open and it was all due to the actions of member Rick Michelini.
On the night of the storm, the New York District expressed they wanted to keep the tower staffed, but the supervisor told everyone to go home that night because the conditions were dangerous. The tower was due to reopen Saturday morning. The tower manager, Andrea Gilbert, notified Michelini that she needed someone to staff the facility but to take his time getting in safely.
"Rick possesses an old fashioned work ethic," said ISP Facility Representative Melissa Sestak. "He came to work the morning after Hurricane Sandy to open the tower on his day off when no other controller could get in."
On Saturday morning, Michelini got out in the blizzard conditions and headed into work at 5:00 a.m., just like he did during Hurricane Sandy. Although he lives only five miles from the facility, he had to work his way through unplowed, snowy roads in the middle of a blizzard storm.
Just when Michelini made it to the airport property, his luck ran out in front of New York Center (ZNY) and his truck got stuck in the snow.
"I could barely see anything and this jeep in front of me got stuck, so once I got stuck my truck went dead," said Michelini. "I had to wait for the airport maintenance to come and tow my truck out, which took several hours."
But instead of heading into shelter at ZNY, he got out of his truck and headed out on foot to the ISP. With his body near frozen and pants entirely soaked, he struggled for a half mile, through up to four feet of snow, before he reached the tower.
Michelini "immediately began coordinating snow removal, recording equipment outages, logging Notams, as well as touching base with employees trying to get to work and keeping management informed. He coordinated with law enforcement and assisted them transiting through our airspace, as well as departing and landing from the field after the storm passed."
Sestak continued, "He is always at work doing his job for the last 20 years. He never takes sick leave or misses because of a snow day. A more reliable controller would be near impossible to find."
Michelini commented and was surprised this has taken such notice.
"I've been doing this my whole career, and I'd do it again," said Michelini. "Hey, if you gotta go to work, you gotta go to work!"
"What Rick did may have seemed ordinary to him, but it was unbelievably extraordinary to me, and to his brothers and sisters around the Eastern Region," Eastern Regional Vice President Phil Barbarello said. "Rick's dedication is the epitome of professionalism and pride in his profession. It's profoundly inspiring, and I thank Rick for setting such a wonderful example of a true professional."