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Suzanne Guy Alexander – 2013 Inductee, Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame

July 29, 2013 in 1940s-1950s

Suzanne Guy Alexander (1957- ) was born in Scottsville, Kentucky and graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in music. She is an inductee this year in the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame for her leadership in the National Airspace System, ensuring the safety of the flying public.

Alexander joined the Federal Aviation Administration in 1982 as an air traffic control specialist in Dallas-Fort Worth after the PATCO strike.  When she first started, the towers did not have radar, and pilots would have to tell the controllers their position and altitude verbally. Women were hired as air traffic controllers for the first time during World War II, but remain underrepresented in air traffic control and technical operations: today only about 20% are women. (see Michael Huerta, “Seventy Years of Service”).

air traffic controllersShe moved from Texas to Seattle, Washington in 1990, where her duties expanded to a supervisory role for the northwestern United States – including Colorado and Washington. Transferring to Charlotte, North Carolina, she was promoted to Assistant Air Traffic Manager. Later, Alexander was back in Seattle, deeply involved in bringing a new Terminal Radar Approach Control system into operation.In 2005 she was promoted to manager of the FAA control center in Memphis, a busy air traffic area due to FedEx operations at its airport. This position also had authority over air traffic control for the eastern portion of the United States, from Maine to Puerto Rico. She was the equivalent of a group manager in a service center, as well as an enroute Air Traffic Manager and a district manager. She moved with her husband, who is a pilot, and her daughter, as she took on increasing responsibility with each new job.

Alexander completed her FAA career as Director of Operations for the FAA Eastern Terminal Service Area, managing more than 100 facilities with oversight of over 200 federal and contract air traffic control towers and radar approach controls in the eastern part of the country – including New York, Washington, and Atlanta.

For more on the women in the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame, see the Aeronautical Achievers project site.

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