Shaheen Honors NH Air Traffic Controllers Who Saved F-16

February 06, 2020

**Shaheen presented a Congressional Record Statement to air traffic controllers who quickly organized a mid-air refueling to save an F-16 that ran out of fuel in inclement weather**

 

Senator Shaheen presents CR Statement to Michael Jacobson

Senator Shaheen presents CR Statement to Jeff Aulbach

Senator Shaheen presents CR Statement to Neil Cospito

Senator Shaheen presents Michael Jacobson, Jeff Aulbach and Neil Cóspito with certificates of her Congressional Record Statement honoring their heroic actions that saved the aircraft and life of pilot Lt. Colonel Nate Smith. Full sized versions of these pictures are available here.

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) honored three New Hampshire air traffic controllers for their heroic actions that saved an F-16 pilot in November 2018. During a visit to the Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (TRACON) in Nashua today, Shaheen presented Jeff Aulbach, Neil Cóspito and Michael Jacobson with a Congressional Record Statement honoring their quick actions that saved the aircraft and life of pilot Lieutenant Colonel Nate Smith when his F-16 was unable to land at its home base in Burlington, Vermont due to inclement weather and only had 15 minutes of fuel remaining. 

On November 20, 2018, poor weather prevented Lt. Col. Smith from landing in Burlington. With only enough fuel for 15 minutes of flight, Jeff, Neil and Michael devised a plan to quickly divert a flight of KC-135 refueling tankers for a mid-air refueling and secured an alternative landing location. Lt. Col. Smith landed safely in Syracuse, New York a short while later. 

“Jeff, Neil and Michael exemplify the excellence of our air traffic controllers here and throughout the country who work day and night to keep our skies safe. Their quick and decisive actions ensured Lt. Col. Smith made it home safely,” said Shaheen. “I was honored to present them with a Congressional Record Statement to recognize their heroic actions and ensure history remembers their extraordinary service.”

 

CR Statement honoring Air Traffic Controllers 

All three men were awarded the Archie League Medal of Safety Award in 2019, which is bestowed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association annually to recognize air traffic controllers for extraordinary actions in the line of duty. Lt. Col. Smith recounted his experience, saying, “The Boston Center crew saved the day with essentially thinking outside the box.” 

A PDF of the Congressional Record Statement is available here.