ATCA Award Categories


The George W. Kriske Memorial Award
The George W. Kriske Memorial Award is presented to an individual who has, through an outstanding career, improved the quality, safety and efficiency of air traffic control.
George Kriske was born in 1911 in Rochester, NY. He served in the US Army from 1930-1937 and joined the Bureau of Air Commerce as a Junior Radio Operator assigned to the Airway Communications Station in Ardmore, Oklahoma and subsequently worked as a relief radio operator throughout the southwestern United States. In 1939 he became interested in Air Traffic Control which was still in its infancy and went to work in the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center. During World War II he served as Chief Controller at Fort Worth Center and in the Oklahoma and Tulsa Control Towers as a controller and instructor. He then put in a two year tour of duty as the Civil Aeronautics Administration Liaison Officer to Headquarters Strategic Air Command USAF in Omaha, Nebraska where he was assigned to the Staff of General Curt LeMay. While in this post he was assigned to the United Kingdom and Western Europe to survey the air ground and air traffic capabilities of the various countries operating North Atlantic Air Traffic Control systems to determine if they could satisfactorily handle the world-wide deployment of Strategic Air Command Aircraft. In 1965 he moved to FAA Headquarters and was Chief of the Air Traffic Service Evaluation Staff until his retirement in 1967 with over 37 years of government service. He then served with distinction as President of the Air Traffic Control Association giving up the post in 1971 due to poor health. He earned his pilots wings in 1942 and held single and multi-engine and instrument ratings with over 2500 hours of flight time. He also held a commercial pilot certificate.
George Kriske was a humble, kind man of great stature who devoted his life to the ATC profession. He had an outstanding career which added to the quality, safety and efficiency of air traffic control and in recognition of this ATCA established the George W. Kriske Memorial Award upon his death in 1974.

William A. Parenteau
This is a Medallion Award presented to an individual for an outstanding achievement or contribution during the previous year, which has added to the quality, safety, or efficiency of air traffic control.
William A. Parenteau was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1915, but was raised on Long Island, NY where he graduated from Public School 32. After attending prep school and during his senior year at Dartmouth College he told his father he would rather work than study. So, his father sent him to the oil fields in the Southwest where he was a roustabout and worked with a work crew that used dynamite when searching for oil.
In 1941, he went to work for Eastern Airlines at LaGuardia Field in New York where he sold tickets and hauled baggage. It was while he worked at La Guardia that he became interested in air traffic control. In 1942 he joined the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) as an air traffic controller after graduating from the Flushing Technical Institute ATC school located at the airport. He worked in the Hartford, Connecticut tower for several months and in 1943 became an assistant controller in the Richmond, Virginia tower.
In 1944 LaGuardia Tower (LGA) was one of the few control towers still operated by the City of New York. Since LaGuardia controllers were not Federal employees, they were not permitted to handle any IFR operations, such as approach control. As a consequence, CAA volunteers were solicited to come to LaGuardia to control the IFR traffic and conduct a live evaluation of a computerized “ADF Approach Control System.” Bill was one of the controllers selected for this evaluation and he contributed to development of early IFR approach procedures that were subsequently implemented throughout the country. When the CAA took over operation of the LaGuardia Tower in 1945, Bill continued to work there and was promoted to Chief of the facility in 1948. He served there with distinction until 1960 when he was appointed FAA Chief of the Idlewild Tower, now Kennedy Tower.
Things were in bad shape at Kennedy Airport, where excessive delays and operational inefficiencies occurred on a daily basis. Bill was highly respected and regarded by his work force, users of the ATC system, and the Regional Office and could quickly solve all kinds of procedural, technical, or management problems which he proceeded to do at Kennedy Airport where he got things under control in short order.
Bill was an articulate, charismatic man who was in his element when he had a microphone in his hand. He was noted for his fabulous on air delivery, leaving no doubt in the minds of pilots who received his transmissions as to who was in charge. Perhaps some of this came from his love of acting which manifested itself in his playing lead roles in many of the drama clubs and theaters throughout the New York area and his appearance in various television shows, among them “Studio One.”
Bill’s strengths were that he was always explicitly clear about what he expected of you, had a knack for choosing top notch supervisors to work for him, always stuck up for the people who worked for him, and no matter how difficult the job, management could depend on him to get it done. He was a charter member of ATCA, worked hard, had a great sense of humor, and tremendous pride in the ATC profession. He was a great role model and a one of a kind individual. William Alfred Parenteau died in 1972 at the Franklin General Hospital, Valley Stream, New York. He was only 57, but before he died he had a great impact on the ATC system and the people who worked for him or were associated with him.

The Clifford Burton Memorial Award
The Clifford P. Burton Memorial award is a Medallion Award reserved for members who have not only contributed to the quality, safety or efficiency of air traffic control, but also have devoted much time and effort in furthering the goals and objectives of ATCA and the profession.

The Earl F. Ward Memorial Award
This is a Medallion Award presented to a group for an outstanding achievement during the previous year, which has added to the quality, safety or efficiency of air traffic control.
Earl F. Ward was a pioneer airmail and airline pilot who recognized the need for aircraft separation as air traffic increased. Ward joined the United States Naval Air Service in 1917 and became a Marine Pilot. In World War I he served in the only Marine Unit that deployed to Europe. After the war the Post Office organized the first airmail routes in 1918, and Ward was one of the first pilots recruited to fly the mail in 1924. In 1927 he left the Post Office Service and joined the newly organized National Air Transport Service flying the mail between New York and Cleveland. He subsequently went to work for American Airlines in 1929 and became a Management pilot based in Chicago. Earl became concerned that the increase in instrument flight operations in those early days would result in a mid-air collision unless some separation procedures were developed. He came up with the idea of having American’s radio operators exchange traffic information between all AA flights in and out of Chicago. While this afforded a small measure of safety for AA flights, Ward realized that there was a need for all carriers in the area to participate if the procedure was to be truly effective. He wasted no time in seeking and obtaining the cooperation of TWA, United and Eastern in an extension of this venture. Inter-Airline tests of these procedures at Chicago proved successful; but they still provided only for an exchange of traffic information. It became evident to Ward that it was necessary to take it to the next level by implementing mandatory procedures and rules requiring the adherence to altitudes and routes assigned by a central control group. Ward prepared an interline agreement, the first such document ever, in which American, United, TWA and Eastern Airlines agreed to implement these procedures to prevent collisions. Using the newly developed separation procedures and with the support of the Federal Government, the airlines used their own personnel to set-up enroute air traffic control facilities at Newark, Chicago and Cleveland in 1935. In July 1936, the Bureau of Air Commerce took over the traffic control stations established by the airlines including the employment of most of the people working in these centers. Earl F. Ward was appointed the first Supervisor of Airways Traffic Control in the Bureau of Air Commerce.

The David J. Hurley Memorial Award for Aviation Traffic Management
This is a Medallion Award presented to an individual working in the field of Aviation Traffic Management for outstanding achievement or contribution in the area of ATC collaborative decision making, balancing air traffic demand and capacity, or maximizing airspace and airport use, which has added to the quality, efficiency and/or safety of the Global Airspace Systems.

In Herndon, Virginia, the Air Traffic Control Systems Command Center stands as a legacy to the vision of David J. Hurley. Early on Mr. Hurley recognized the importance of system and system leadership and worked tirelessly on the relocation of the Command Center from its location in FAA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to its current location in Herndon, Virginia. Mr. Hurley played the key role in redefining the Traffic Management Organization and positioning it to meet the challenges of the future. As Director of Air Traffic Management, David J. Hurley was recognized for his vision and leadership. He received the Department of Transportation Secretary’s Award for Meritorious Achievement in 1990. In 1992, he received the Senior Executive Service Presidential Meritorious Rank Award. In 1994, He was presented ATCA’s George W. Kriske Memorial Award. In 1995, Mr. Hurley returned to the FAA Eastern Region where his illustrious career began and became the Air Traffic Division Manager for the New England Region. Mr. Hurley passed away in April of 1997. In the summer of the same year, the Air Traffic Control System Command Center was rededicated as the David J. Hurley Air Traffic Control System Command Center. On the left, as you enter the operations room of the command center there is a prominently displayed portrait of Mr. Hurley. Along with the portrait, a sentiment, in bold letters, states “His vision….our reality.”


The General E.R. Quesada Memorial Award
This is a Medallion Award presented to an individual for an outstanding achievement or contribution during the previous year as an ATC Manager. Several airline collisions in the mid 1950’s spurred governmental action to expand and improve air traffic control and establish a Federal Office of Aviation agency. The Federal Aviation Agency came into existence when President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada, a retired Air Force General, became the first Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency. During World War II, Quesada flew many combat missions and held a series of important commands, including leadership, roles and contributions to the success of the Normandy invasion and other campaigns. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with one cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After retiring from the Air Force in 1951, with the rank of Lieutenant General, Quesada held a variety of positions in private industry before returning to government as Special Assistant for aviation matters under President Eisenhower. He was later appointed Chairman of the Airways Modernization Board. Under Quesada’s management the FAA assumed the full scope of its responsibilities and Quesada served as Administrator for the remainder of the Eisenhower Administration, resigning effective January 20, 1961. The Quesada Memorial Award recognizes the extraordinary achievement of General Quesada as head of the FAA in bringing together military and civil aviation air traffic control responsibilities and staffing key posts in the new agency to cope with critically needed ATC modernization. The General E.R. Quesada Memorial Award. 

The Andy Pitas Memorial Award
This Medallion Award is presented to an individual or group who provided flight assistance in the previous year that resulted in the safe recovery of an emergency aircraft through the application of exceptional air traffic service.
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.

The ATCA Airway Transportation Systems Specialist of the Year Award
Presented to an individual military or civilian airway facilities technician acting in a non-supervisory capacity who has, during the previous year, performed in an exemplary or extraordinary manner in support of ATC.

The ATCA Air Traffic Control Specialist of the Year Award
Presented to an individual civilian air traffic control specialist who has during the previous year performed in an exemplary or extraordinary manner in support of ATC (an award for each specialist discipline in enroute, terminal and flight service facilities).

Industry and Small Business

The Charles E. Varnell Memorial Award for Small Business
This is a Medallion Award presented to a small business concern for outstanding achievement or contribution, which has added to the quality, safety or efficiency of air traffic control.
Charles E. Varnell was born in Dallas, Texas on March 11, 1931 and served in the United States Air Force as a Radio/Radar Operator. After military service he worked for North American Aviation, the Whittaker Corporation and Litton Industries before opening his own consulting business in 1972. Mr. Varnell became a member of ATCA in 1969 and over the years was a diligent worker and supporter of ATCA and its objectives. His integrity, loyalty and professionalism were his hallmark and his many accomplishments in support of the National Airspace System are legendary. As a member Charlie was always active in ATCA sponsored symposia, meetings or convention activities and willingly supported personally and financially any activity which contributed to the benefit of ATCA and its members. His many contributions include the expansion of corporate member exhibits, creation of the ATCA Golf Outing and his personnel support of the ATCA scholarship program. The ATCA Small Business Award category was established based) on his recommendation. Charlie was awarded an ATCA Honorary Membership in 1999. He died on August 2, 2000. He was an inspiration to all who knew him and the Charles E. Varnell Memorial Award is named for him in recognition of his outstanding support of ATCA and the aviation industry.

ATCA Small & Disadvantaged Business Award
Presented to a small business concern owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals for an exemplary achievement or contribution that has added to the safety, quality or efficiency of ATC.

ATCA Industrial
This is a Medallion Award presented to an industry or a group of industries for outstanding achievement or contribution, which has added to the quality safety or efficiency of air traffic control.

The ATCA Life Cycle Management Award
The award recognizes the individual(s) or group whose design, development, deployment, maintenance or logistical support had a significant positive impact on the performance or operation of an important ATC system in the previous year.


The Lingiam “Linn” Odems Memorial Award
The Lingiam “Linn” Odems Memorial Award is a Medallion Award for air traffic control specialists of the Military. This is an Award presented to an individual military or civilian air traffic control specialist who has during the previous year performed in an exemplary or extraordinary manner in support of military air traffic control facilities.
Lingiam “Linn” Odems was born on April 15, 1931, in Jackson, Mississippi and died on July 29, 2001. In 1951, he began his military career in the United States Army where he attained the rank of Sergeant Major, the highest enlisted rank in the Army. During his twenty-three years exemplary of military service, Linn received numerous medals and commendations for valor and excellence. Among these were the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal. Having served his country in two wars (Korea, Vietnam) and peacetime, Linn retired from active military service on April 30, 1974. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. He continued his ATC career working as a civilian for the United States Aeronautical Services Office. In his capacity of Air Traffic Control Specialist, Linn served as the Army’s liaison to the Federal Aviation Administration until retiring from civilian service in the summer of 1996. Linn became an ATCA member in 1974 and during his 27 year membership was an aviation ambassador, actively promoting and encouraging the advancement of aviation and air traffic control of the kind and quality required by the civil and military aviation sectors. While representing ATCA, he provided outstanding leadership as the Chairman of FAA’s highly regarded Air Traffic Procedures Advisory Committee. He also served with distinction on ATCA’s Awards Committee, Education Committee, Air Traffic Control Committee and Scholarship Committee. He was awarded the ATCA Clifford Burton Special Medallion Award in May 1996 for his contribution to the quality, safety and efficiency of air traffic control and especially for his time and effort in furthering the goals and objectives of ATCA and the profession. The Lingiam Odems Medallion Award is named for Linn in recognition of his outstanding lifetime support of military and civilian air traffic control.

Awards Committee

Tom Styc, CHAIR, Aviation Management
Myreille Campeau, NAV Canada
Kim Cardosi, DoT
Charlie Dove, RVA
JoAnn Ford, FAA
Frank Frisbie, Double F Consulting
Rick Day, CSC
Susie McMichael, The Boeing Company
Bob Meyer, Raytheon
Kathleen Thompson, Jerry Thompson & Associates, Inc.
Paul Planzer, Staff Liaison, ATCA

  • Welcome to the ATCA
  • Welcome to the ATCA

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