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royalld | profile | all galleries >> Out in the World >> Atlanta >> Atlanta Tower 2006 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Atlanta Tower 2006

CHANGING OF THE GUARD
(see photos below)


My career at Atlanta Air Traffic Control Tower spanned 20 years. I was an air traffic controller, a training instructor, and an air traffic supervisor while there.

When I left to work for Air Traffic Headquarters I took a life-time of memories from the old building. Just hearing someone refer to that building as the "old tower" makes me feel like a dinosaur.

It seems like yesterday, when I gave the very first air traffic control instruction issued from the now old building. It was brand new to us that night. My radio call was an approach clearance to a passenger jet inbound from New York City. "Eastern 99, Atlanta approach, you're radar contact. Cross 40 northwest of Atlanta at 14,000 then descend and maintain 9000. Expect radar vectors for an ILS approach to Runway 26." That was September, 1976 and we had just moved into what they are now calling the old building, and that was the very first radio call from there.

Now in 2006, everything has changed. Eastern Airlines has long been out of business, I retired two years ago, and we were gathered at the airport to see the old building taken down.

For whatever it is worth, I was the first African-American to control air traffic in the Atlanta Tower and Radar Approach Control.

I transfered to Atlanta from Kennedy Tower in New York. It was 1972. Initially, I found it hard to fit in. But, I was young and, because of the war in Vietnam, I had a lot of military air traffic experience. My work was safe, expeditious, and orderly. I chose not to be denied.

Many things have changed over the years. At the time this page was written, Atlanta Tower's acting Air Traffic Manager was an African-American. I can't describe how proud I felt to see the strong cross-section of minorities who now work in the facility.

Today, Atlanta has a new cadre of controllers and a grand new control tower. I don't know most of the youngsters who work there now. There were only a few 'old-timers' who remembered me.

And I was not alone in my melancoly. Many former controllers and technicians returned to see the era of a wonderful old tower come to an end. Each of us silently weighed personal memories and private thoughts as we watched 'the changing of the guard'.

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