The Andy Pitas Memorial Award
Andy Pitas first experienced air traffic control in during World War II when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. One day a supervisor at the Anacostia Naval Air Station in Washington, D.C., asked the 17-year-old to work in the control tower. After the war he worked at the Washington Tower in D.C., now Reagan National Airport. But it was his accomplishment in 1956 for which we will be forever indebted to Andy Pitas. That year, he was the principal founder and driving force behind the creation of the ATCA. Air traffic controllers did not have retirement benefits or adequate insurance and pay in the 1950’s and they could suffer the blame of plane collisions even if they performed their jobs well. Through lobbying efforts and representation in Congress, ATCA gained better benefits for its members and evolved into a source of international recognition for controllers. It began to provide a forum for an exchange of thoughts on technical improvements in the airspace that just did not exist before. His vision created the goal “to promote the advancement of aviation and air traffic control….” He was elected ATCA’s first President.
In 1958, Andy transferred to the Airspace and Procedures Division at FAA Headquarters where he helped revise the Controller Handbook, which developed new airspace configuration and design procedures to implement the National Airspace System.
Andy Pitas retired in 1983 and throughout was extremely involved with ATCA. He served in various roles to include Assistant Vice President and Historian. He was the first recipient of the George Kriske Memorial award in 1974 and was honored with the Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award in 2003. Andy co-chaired the ATCA Awards Committee, was involved with the Scholarship Fund, and contributed countless articles to the Journal of Air Traffic Control. And although he may have been one of the older members of the organization, he still submitted everything electronically and was encouraging of the technical advancements ATCA continued to make over the years.