Member Focus: Edward Allen
Friday, July 12, 2013

NATCA/FAA career: I was hired by the FAA in 1986 as an Air Traffic Assistant (ATA), GS2154/7, at Oakland, Calif. Bay TRACON (BAY). In Nov. 1987, I attended the FAA Academy, for a Flight Service Station (FSS) option, to be assigned to OAK FSS. In Feb. 1988, while finishing up the FSS school, the Southern Region offered me an air traffic control class. After graduating the ATC portion of the academy in June 1988, I was assigned to Tallahassee, Fla. ATCT (TLH), where I received my first facility rating. This was also the beginning of my NATCA career. The FAA facilities which I certified in the years to follow were: Panama City, Fla. (PFN ATCT), New Orleans International Airport (MSY ATCT), Pensacola, Fla. Terminal Radar Approach Control (P31 TRACON) and Roanoke, Va. Regional Airport (ROA ATCT). I retired from ROA ATCT in March 2008.

Federal Contract Tower career: I worked at Greenbriar County Airport (LWB FCT), Lewisburg, W. Va., and currently am working at Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM FCT), Mobile, Ala. 
Born and raised, other places of living: I was born in New Orleans and raised in Slidell, La. After high school in 1972, I moved to Redondo Beach, Calif. with some high school friends. Not only was it a culture shock for us, but it was definitely a different type of culture shock for the wonderful people we had the pleasure to meet. I will never forget the amazing times we shared with them. It was absolutely seven years of pure fun.
Education: Elementary school was extremely tough. I think I graduated elementary and high school at the same time. I started college at El Camino Junior College in Torrance, Calif. until moving back to Slidell in 1979. I joined the U.S. Navy in October 1980 and attended the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Millington, Tenn., which was the beginning of my ATC career. I also attended the University of New Orleans and Delgado Community College.  

Family: My beautiful wife, Tami. We met at the FAA Academy in 1988 and we have shared our lives together ever since. As Brad Paisley so eloquently described her to me in his song, “She’s Everything:” "She's everything I ever wanted, and everything I need. I talk about her. I go on and on and on, 'cause she's everything to me."  Yes, we were both controllers and both retired from the FAA in 2008.

We have a yours, mine and ours family, consisting of four daughters and two boys. For those of you who may not have experienced the difference of raising girls versus boys, let me just say this: boys will definitely get themselves in trouble, but girls will age you one hundred years in a week’s time. The exception may be the "our part" of the family, our youngest. He's 21 years old and in the Air Force, and unfortunately for him, he was bequeathed mental characteristics from both sides of our families.

Grandchildren, they really are God's beautiful little angels. They make us smile, brighten our days and warm our hearts. Either God really likes us, or he knows we need a lot of looking after. He sent us 13 and one more on the way, Little Drew. He struggles inside his mommy's tummy right now, but he is a fighter. He has definitely taught us that God does hear our prayers. We’re looking forward to meeting him this September.

Q: How did you become a NATCA member? 

A: During my tenure at BAY as an ATA, I had the opportunity to work with a great group of controllers. This was the beginning of a new era when many dedicated controllers were determined to reorganize as a collective bargaining unit and build on the legacy of our PATCO brothers and sisters. When I finally had the opportunity to become a GS2152 controller, I had already decided I was NATCA.

Q: Did you have any family members who were involved in unions? 

A: My father was a lifetime member of the Seafarers International Union (SIU) as an offshore man. He worked his entire life in shipping on overseas vessels. He taught me the brotherhood of his union.

Q: How did you get involved, and what are you involved in with NATCA? 

A: 25+ years in NATCA with the FAA and RVA (FCT) has taught me many things and provided me with experiences that I like sharing with current and potential future bargaining unit members. As the Facility President/FACREP at the local level, I instill unity amongst our members and illustrate the benefits of being a member of the NATCA family. 

As a current member of the NATCA National Organizing Committee (NOC), I work in unison with an incomparable group of NATCA ativists. We all volunteer our time to formulate and organize goals and strategies designed to educate, strengthen and build our membership both internally and externally. 

Q: What made you decide to take on leadership roles within NATCA?  

A: I wanted to help preserve and protect the working conditions and rights that we have amassed over the years. Additionally, I enjoy being an inspiration to our younger members and potential future members. 

Q: What's the most rewarding part of being facility president? What's the most challenging? 

A: The most rewarding experience for me was watching the NATCA membership here at BFM FCT grow from a single dues paying member to a 100% NATCA membership facility within one week of becoming the NATCA Facility President/FACREP.

The most challenging part of being the NATCA Facility President/FACREP is adjusting from Labor/Management regulations in the FAA to dealing with them in the private sector.

Q: What makes working at a contract tower unique?  

A: Contract towers are small facilities with minimal staffing. The concessions and sacrifices that controllers make to help each other out, i.e., time off for vacations, training, family events, etc., is nothing less than commendable. 

Q: Has there been a favorite moment for you while at NATCA? 

A: Volunteering and attending the different NATCA functions, training, etc., to meet and work with other NATCA members from around the country. I always look forward to my next trip to see friendly faces I like being with.

Q: Do you have any advice/tips/messages for members who would like to get involved, especially at a contract tower?  

A: Take the first step and ask someone inside NATCA to explain the benefits of the NATCA difference. Talk to their other coworkers and share the information that was provided to them. After becoming part of a NATCA facility, get involved in NATCA training and attend different NATCA functions to meet the rest of the NATCA family.

Let’s go beyond your involvement in NATCA:

My favorite band is: Unfair question, I have many...
My celebrity crush is: Nicole Kidman.
My favorite type of aircraft is: The one we're flying on for our vacation.
My favorite comfort food is: Butter pecan ice cream topped with salted roasted cashews: sweet, salty and a taste of butter all-in-one bite.
My local hotspot is: All Northwest Florida beaches.