Five years of tireless effort to bring a world-class air traffic control laboratory to MTSU have earned Gail Zlotky and the University statewide recognition.
On Nov. 12 in Sevierville, Zlotky received the Tennessee Aviation Person of the Year Award. She conceived the ATC lab idea, followed through with the plan and withstood budget hurdles to see it open last March.
About 30 MTSU faculty and students supported Zlotky by attending the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame Gala at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation.
“I didn’t do this alone,” Zlotky noted. “This ought to be an MTSU award, not a ‘me’ award.” She added that everyone involved, from those at the University to the Tennessee Board of Regents, “showed they believe in me, and this (award) is pretty overwhelming.”
Bob Minter, founder of the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame and co-founder of the Tennessee Aviation Association, nominated Zlotky, an MTSU alumna (’93, ’94).
“We in the Department of Aerospace are very proud of Gail’s award,” said Dr. Wayne Dornan, department chair, who secured a $3.5 million state bond for the project. “Her tireless work to establish the air traffic control facility will benefit not only MTSU students but also enhance safety for air traffic controllers in the United States.”
Zlotky’s main job responsibility is to “teach students to be professionals as well as air traffic controllers. Part of the job is getting to know the students well enough to give them the MTSU recommendations. They are moving into a very high-profile, high-security and high-stress job. With all of this in mind, students have to prove themselves on many levels.”
Fellow faculty member Joe Hawkins (’99, ’03) was inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)