Air Traffic Controller On Second-To-Last Day Saves Pilot From Potential Midair Collision

Illustration for article titled Air Traffic Controller On Second-To-Last Day Saves Pilot From Potential Midair Collision
Photo: Textron Aviation

An air traffic controller in Lexington, Kentucky, working his last days at a tower before his transfer to a new location, made a call that really counted. He saved a pilot from a potential midair collision.


This touching story comes from the Medium blog of the Federal Aviation Administration. In late November, Uriah Addington worked flights at Lexington Tower/TRACON. He was only a couple of days from a promotion to Operations Supervisor at Cincinnati Tower.

Addington is only one of more than 14,000 air traffic controllers operating out of some 700 facilities in the country, says the FAA. At any given time there are 5,000 planes in the air, many managed by controllers.

David Leddy was the pilot of a Beechcraft Bonanza on that day, flying to an uncontrolled airport (no tower) in Somerset, Kentucky, with his son. It was a short flight, only about 70 miles south of Lexington.

Photo: Textron Aviation

Addington provided ATC service in the Lexington area as Leddy practiced maneuvers. When he was finished, Leddy said he was headed south and no longer needed ATC services. He also declined traffic advisories from Addington. But right after Addington terminated radar service he noticed cross traffic to the left of the Beechcraft.

Addington reacted immediately and called out, hoping Leddy would hear the warning. Even though Leddy didn’t acknowledge, he heard it and moved out of the way, potentially avoiding a midair collision.


Leddy never got to thank Addington over the radio, but he sent an email to him for going the extra mile to ensure safety. From the FAA:

“He made the call, and it may have been one of those things where he could have avoided a midair collision,” Leddy said. “I wanted to thank him for the culture of safety they foster and the important job he and other controllers do every day.”


Addington felt that he was just doing his job:

“Truthfully, I didn’t think anything of it when it happened,” Addington said humbly. “I just kept working. It goes back to the way I was trained. At different facilities I’ve had great trainers that harped at the need to keep scanning, and that scenario was a perfect example. You don’t know if the guy is there or not. You just make that transmission.”


Still, Leddy found it impressive that Addington did all of this without so much as a conflict alert (assists controllers in preventing collisions) from his system. Addington was commended for his awesome work and he’s looking forward to his new role at Cincinnati Tower.

Whenever you board a plane, remember the awesome traffic controllers who work with pilots to keep flying safe and orderly!


FAA’s Medium is full of stories like this, and now I can’t stop reading its entries. They’re chock-full of awesome saves like the one you just read. Check out FAA’s Medium for more.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Loves all vehicles! Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...



I was pretty close to being a controller, down selected for the program and everything. I realized it wasn’t the kind of stress I wanted in my life daily. Some people can eat that kind of stress up and I think I could have pushed through but I realized that it wasn’t a natural thing and I would always be forcing it. Did you know it’s mandatory early retirement for controllers? Stress. I knew a could of neighbors that did it growing up and my hats off to the them. It’s a tough, mostly thankless job.