Wichita air traffic controller Mark Goldstein said he was just doing his job when he initiated an investigation on debris found on a runway at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.
Goldstein tracked the debris -- part of a tire and a landing gear door -- to a regional jet that had just taken off for Atlanta.
Because of Goldstein's efforts, the pilot -- who was unaware of any problem -- was contacted and landed safely.
For his actions, Goldstein, a certified professional controller, was awarded an Air Traffic Control Specialist of the Year Award by the Air Traffic Controllers Association earlier this month at its 50th annual conference in Grapevine, Texas.
Here's what Goldstein and the Air Traffic Controllers Association said happened:
On Nov. 11, 2004, a Wichita airport authority official reported debris on the runway. That debris was an aircraft tire. A safety vehicle sent to investigate also found a landing gear door.
Goldstein, who is a pilot with almost 2,000 flying hours, asked them to bring the debris by the air traffic control tower.
He concluded that the white landing gear door came from a regional jet and thought it likely that it came from an Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight that had just left for Atlanta.
The pilot had not mentioned any problems, so Goldstein figured he was unaware of any damage.
Goldstein called the Kansas City Air Traffic Control Center and asked it to advise the pilot of the situation.
With help from the Memphis control center, the information was passed along to the airline and the pilot, who said he was unaware of a problem.
As a precaution, however, the pilot declared an emergency for the aircraft.
The airplane landed safely in Atlanta. But during a post-flight inspection, the airline found that the Canadair regional jet had blown a tire, was missing a gear door and had suffered damage to a wing flap.
Goldstein received the award for his "exceptional efforts," the Air Traffic Controllers Association said. He demonstrated his "knowledge, experience, expertise and willingness to go the extra mile."
Goldstein has been an air traffic controller since 1983 and came to Wichita in 1989.
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