Sky Harbor air traffic controllers honored for life saving assist

Posted at 7:58 PM, May 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-02 22:58:35-04

Three air traffic controllers are being credited with saving the life of a pilot during a rocky winter flight.

Aaron Fones, Carlton Wickstrom and Brian Bond were all working inside Sky Harbor’s Radar Approach Control center on January 20, 2016.

The group received a call that night detailing a pilot’s trouble guiding a single engine Cessna from north Las Vegas into Phoenix-Goodyear Airport.

"You could tell she was getting rattled pretty good with the winds, and the terrain is pretty mountainous where she was at," said Fones.

The controllers decided to guide the pilot into Prescott because she was 35 miles off course. At one point she even fell off their radar.

When they were able to contact her again, she had lost altitude and came close to hitting nearby hills and mountains.

"We looked at her altitude in comparison with what the map showed and she was within a couple hundred feet of the ground," said Fones.

Fortunately, the controllers were able to guide the pilot into Prescott safely after 45 minutes.

They say they would like to meet the woman, but so far, have been unable to find her.