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Mon, Mar 22, 2010

Navy Controller Selected As Air Boss For Show At NAS El Centro

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" position.

"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 job."

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 Centro.

"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 hours long!"

Because of that passion, Thomson says he plans on doing his job in the Navy for many more years.



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