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    Admirable Sailor Joins IKE CATCC Team

    USS Dwight D. Eisenhower’s (CVN 69) Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) recently added a new member to their team. Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Drey Aynes, from Sedro-Woolley, Washington, reported to Ike Jan. 8, and he brought some unique experience with him.

    Aynes was awarded the 2019 Navy Region Southeast Air Traffic Controller of the Year for meritorious actions during a lifesaving emergency while standing tower supervisor watch in Bahrain.

    Aynes said he was working alone as the tower supervisor when the emergency unfolded.

    “We had two AV-8B Harriers II take off, but the first one had to divert to a taxi runway,” said Aynes. “The second harrier took off while the other pilot started to troubleshoot his problems.”

    Aynes said he averted his attention to the harrier in the air to keep an eye on any other potential hazards.

    “He was also experiencing problems with his aircraft,” said Aynes. “I worked with him for about ten minutes making sure operations were normal. Then I received a call from the pilot on the ground.”

    They came up with a plan to de-arm the harrier on the runway so that the pilot could swap out aircraft and continue his mission.

    “I looked over to check on him and make sure he was still good and noticed smoke coming from the aircraft,” said Aynes. “I knew something was happening and called fire dispatch to let them know we had an emergency.”

    Aynes received another call from the pilot saying the harrier was on fire.

    “I let him know emergency fire was already on the way,” said Aynes. “He had hot brakes. He stopped the aircraft too quickly and caught the front end on fire. He had live ordnance at the time.”

    Fire dispatch notified Aynes that they needed Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and that they could not get ahold of them.

    “It’s normally the job of fire dispatch to contact EOD,” said Aynes. “But it ended up falling on me to get ahold of them. So now I’m talking to two aircraft and trying to contact EOD. We ended up having to send someone in person to contact them.”

    Meanwhile, the plane in the air was running low on fuel.

    “He’s losing fuel this whole time while we were dealing with the fire on the runway,” said Aynes. “He has about 10-15 minutes of fuel left. At 15 minutes he needs to divert because that means he has the minimum amount of fuel required to do so.”

    Aynes said there were miscommunications as they tried to come up with a plan to land the circling harrier in the air and ended up having to take matters into his own hands.

    “He now has five minutes of fuel left which makes him an emergency as well,” said Aynes. “Now I’m dealing with two emergencies and end up landing him on the first 6000 feet of the runway while the first emergency is dealt with.”

    Firefighting, EOD, and all available emergency services arrived on scene as the smoking jet faced aircraft, drones and other equipment.

    “The pilot had to ditch the aircraft,” said Aynes. “It was a recipe for disaster.”

    Aynes said it was a stressful and unique training experience.

    “Sometimes the job can be kind of monotonous,” said Aynes. “Normally you just tell them where to land and record the time they landed, but I was pacing back and forth and there was no time for me to stop thinking or stop talking.”

    Aynes said his family was excited and proud of him when they found out he was being recognized.

    “I was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NAM) for it originally,” said Aynes. “I called my mom and told her I got the NAM and that it was going even further.”

    Aynes said that the award is proof that anyone can be recognized, even junior Sailors, as long as they are confident in their training.

    “As long as you are properly trained and comfortable in the position you can accomplish anything,” said Aynes.

    Aynes is a candidate for Navy Air Traffic Controller of the Year.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.18.2020
    Date Posted: 05.11.2020 03:14
    Story ID: 369674
    Location: ATLANTIC OCEAN

    Web Views: 197
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