On June 29, Naval Air Station Lemoore (NASL) Air Traffic Control Division (ATC) was asked by NorCal TRACON, the Northern California Terminal Radar Control Facility, to assist a distressed civilian pilot flying south of the base.
A NorCal TRACON controller advised the NASL ATC that the alternator of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk (C172) may have failed based on the plane’s transponder suddenly malfunctioning.
Lee Ho Seok, the operator of the C172, initially checked in but failed to respond to subsequent radio calls. Air traffic controllers at NAS Lemoore attempted to advise Seok but received no response for quite some time while observing the aircraft making erratic turns.
When his frantic call finally came in he was 12 miles south of NAS Lemoore and requested to land as soon as possible at the NASL airfield. The base air traffic controllers advised him to land at Newton Field in Stratford, as he was two miles away.
For the duration of the episode communication from him was sporadic, but NASL ATC worked in conjunction with personnel at Newton Field to help the pilot land safely at Newton Field where a mechanic was dispatched. The NASL ATC radar supervisor also remained in contact with the Kings County Sheriff's Department dispatch for the entirety of the event.
"NAS Lemoore prides itself on providing the highest quality service to all users of the National Airspace System,” said NAS Lemoore ATC Facility Officer LCDR Bryce “Jed” Klaput. “In this instance, Lemoore air traffic controllers observed an aircraft abnormality and leveraged their extensive experience to help the pilot safely land at an alternate airfield. Mrs. Cindy Stack and Mr. Faustino Diaz, as well as the entire watch team, are to be commended for their prompt action and outstanding service."
The pilot could not be reached for comment.