D.C. air controller had two VIP close calls

Oct. 27, 2011 at 6:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. investigators said an air-traffic controller involved in a close call with first lady Michelle Obama's plane was involved in a similar incident last year.

The July 2010 incident near Washington nearly ended in a mid-air collision between an airliner and a charter jet carrying Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., a report issued Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Controller Breen Peck was also on duty in April when a plane carrying Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Jill, flew too close to a large Air Force C-17 transport plane near Andrews Air Force Base. The Obama plane wound up on approach before the C-17 could taxi off the runway and had to abort the landing.

The Washington Post said Peck, who was certified as an air-traffic controller in 1991, was ordered into a retraining course after the incident this spring. He told the newspaper that while he was not bothered by the hectic pace of the busy airspace around the capital, he had been trying for "several years" to secure a transfer out of the Potomac approach control center in Warrenton, Va.

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