When one of the nation’s 15,000 air traffic controllers does something wrong, you always hear about it. When one of them does something right, averting disaster, it’s called a save, and many times we don’t hear about these stories.
Charlie Rohrer, a controller for 22 years, had just finished a class on how to recognize the symptoms of hypoxia. A week later, while working his shift at the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center, Rohrer diagnosed the condition, which occurs when a pilot flying at high altitude is deprived of oxygen.
After talking with the pilot of a small-engine plane, he noted the slurred speech and began taking action to avoid imminent disaster.
Soon after, the man had passed out and his wife was left to control the plane until it could be guided to a lower altitude.
Rohrer and 14 of his fellow controllers will be honored for their saves at an annual awards ceremony by their union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Read about Rohrer’s save, and hear the air traffic control tower recording, at CBS News.
Read about another recent save, Controllers Guide Pilot Though Clouds Just in Time, in the Seatle Post-Intelligencer.