Air traffic controllers recount being in 12-story swaying tower during earthquake
There was shaking and swaying in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport control tower when the 7.0 earthquake hit on Nov. 30.
"The earthquake let loose and we held on for the ride," said air traffic supervisor Clint Blaszak.
"It was unreal. The shaking, the noise," said air traffic controller Janet Mulder.
Mulder, Blaszak and others were in the tower when the quake hit on Friday.
"I went under my desk. That's what I was trained to do as an Anchorage School District student," Mulder said.
The control tower ended up being evacuated to make sure it was structurally safe, but other controllers at the bottom of the tower did not evacuate. They continued to space out planes and line them up for landing, while crews on the ground checked to make sure runways and taxiways were safe.
While that was happening Blaszak and two other air traffic controllers set up a temporary tower: a Ford F-150.
They parked it along a runway and guided planes in by sight and with their radios.
Blaszak and other managers credit their teams with great communication to keep pilots and passengers safe after the quake.
"That the Anchorage airport didn't suffer any major damage. Airport operations was able to check the runways almost immediately; get everything back up and running. And we were able to continue service and bring airplanes to airport," said approach control supervisor Kevin Hubbard.
Controllers returned to their 12-story tower about two hours after the earthquake.
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