Controller Missed by Family, Friends
By ANN Senior Correspondent Kevin "Hognose" O'Brien
Every student pilot learns that
controllers can help him when he's lost -- "Climb, Conserve,
Confess, Comply" and they can give you a bearing and distance to an
airport or navaid, or vector you home. Some student pilots actually
use that facility. Some pilots who aren't students do, too
(although they usually fib about it afterward). And even when
you're not lost or not even, as Daniel Boone called it, "a mite
bewildered," that calm, confident voice from the Tower or Center or
TRACON is a comfort in the clouds or the night. Controllers are
great folks who put up with many of the hassles pilots do ("fill
the cup to the line, please"), and don't even get the view from the
front office for their trouble.
Well, here's a chance for us pilots and other aviation folks to
return the favor. Controller Jeff Nichols, originally from
Virginia, stood up his ex and his seven-year-old son for breakfast
in Midvale, UT June 8th, something completely out of character. He
hasn't been seen since. His pickup was found five weeks later in
Salt Lake City -- some of his co-workers had spent countless hours
driving the streets looking for it. His bank account hasn't been
touched. He hadn't made any preparations to go away. "I saw him the
afternoon before he disappeared and he said he would see me early
the next day," Ken Whitaker, who worked the Salt Lake International
tower with Jeff, remembers. His fellow controllers have made
powerful statements about Jeff's character and conscientiousnes,
and the controllers' union, NATCA, has joined the Salt Lake media
in trying to spread the word.
Salt Lake City police are stymied. They have no proof of foul
play, but they simply don't have a lot to go on. Utah, largely
populated by easygoing, family-centered Mormons, is not a hotbed of
disappearances or of crime. (Jeff's is one of only two new names on
the state's missing persons list this year). Jeff's family offers a
reward for information, but reward aside, he has a sister, parents,
and a little boy who deserve to know what happened.
If you can help, call Utah Crime Solvers at 1-800-972-2255, or
e-mail his family at email@example.com.
If you can't, pass it on. Someone out there knows what happened to
"Salt Lake, we're looking."