Enlisted Sailor Runs Air Show in El Centro
A Sailor ran his first air show at Naval Air Facility (NAF) El
Centro, CA, as the base's "Air Boss" on March 13. While the
role of "Air Boss" is traditionally reserved for officers and
senior enlisted, the base operations officer at NAF El Centro chose
Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Eric Thompson for the "Air Boss"
"As an air traffic controller, working with aircraft from the
tower is awesome," said Thompson, a Gloversville, NY, native. "But
working an air show with all these different acts? It's a dream
Thompson joined the Navy in 1993 to find direction in life and
to follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and
great-grandfather. Besides loving his job, Thompson excels at
it, said Cmdr. Jim Robinette, operations officer at NAF El
"Thompson has demonstrated excellent situational awareness,"
said Robinette. "He is precise, meticulous and passionate. These
are the traits that make for an excellent air traffic controller,
and those are also qualities that make a great 'Air Boss.'"
On any given day, Thompson could face as many as 1,000
operations, take-offs and landings. In front of the crowd in El
Centro March 13, Thompson faced about 30 operations. With an event
like this, the difficulty and stress comes from all the preparation
work, said Thompson.
Photo Credit: US Navy/Clark Cook
"The type of tower we have here and the type of controllers we
use are visual controllers. The visual aspect is Thompson's domain,
and he thrives in it," said Robinette.
Among the things that excite Thompson about his job are its
quick pace and responsibility.
"Slow days are boring," said Thompson. "It's those fast days
that are the best. Eight-hour days feel like they are only two
Because of that passion, Thomson says he plans on doing his job
in the Navy for many more years.