Awe is Everywhere as the Solar Eclipse Kicks Off Long-Awaited Plans
Vol.10 Issue 4
Great North American Eclipse in the path of totality on April 8, 2024.

Many of you have visited the Thomas P Stafford (TPS) building, where the FAA Academy trains new Air Traffic Control students on the morning and night shifts. This building was named after Oklahoma Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, who contributed immensely to the space race and precursor missions to landing on the moon. He will always be known as a remarkable pioneer in aviation and aerospace in the 1960s, credited with flying the Gemini 6 and the Apollo 10 missions. We are honored to have some of the memorabilia from his missions on display at the Thomas P. Stafford building. Over the years, I enjoyed getting to know Lieutenant General Stafford. He often spoke about his missions and the impact of some of the bombers flying today, like the B-2 bomber that Tink Air Force Base maintains. General Stafford was very proud to have a building at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center named after him. Getting to know him and developing a friendship over the years has been one of the highlights of my career. Unfortunately, last month, on March 18th, at the age of 93 years, we lost Lieutenant General Thomas Stafford. I spoke to him last December about the new Wind and Waves facility, which is nearing completion, and he was excited to participate in the ribbon cutting for this facility. Even up to the end of his life, Stafford was a remarkable contributor and consultant to the nation’s Space Program. Stafford had the option to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but before his passing, he chose to be laid to rest in his hometown of Weatherford, Oklahoma. In honor of Lt. Genl Stafford, this edition of the Monroney News is dedicated to him.

Looking toward outer space also reminds me of the recent solar eclipse, which many at the Center enjoyed observing from various locations. The 2024 solar eclipse symbolized different meanings among people. Some feel that the eclipse represents a new beginning and opportunities for renewal, while others think it represents a time of profound change and growth. Whatever the case, this month, we experienced quite a phenomenon, with the Great North American Eclipse encounter on April 8th. Oklahoma’s town of Idabel was in the path of totality, as a city of 7,000 rose to over 100,000 people to watch as the moon moved in front of the sun. Visitors worldwide waited eagerly to witness 4 minutes and 19 seconds of the sun being hidden. It was back in 1918 when Oklahoma experienced the last total solar eclipse. If you missed this one, you’ll have to wait until August 12th, 2045, when Oklahoma experiences a total eclipse again. To learn more about a solar eclipse, visit NASA’s eclipse website.

On April 16th, we kicked off the third Aeronautical Center’s Employee Development Program (AsCEnD) as thirty participants will broaden their knowledge about the Center’s mission, structure, and business activities over the next seven months. The program is updated each year to keep the content dynamic and engaging. Amidst the introductions and tours of the Logistics Center and learning about The Registry, the new cohorts learned first-hand about emergency operations, as a severe weather drill was conducted during one of their tours!

Another monumental activity occurred on April 17th. One of our valued partners, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony on a new Mobile Systems Test Bed and Training Facility with the FAA Logistics Center and the FAA Academy. This new facility will be located just west of Bldg–#232, the Power Training and Support Facility. CBP’s new facility will accommodate the maintenance and training of many systems while sharing vital government resources. We are privileged to have worked alongside this agency for 16 years.

The Aeronautical Center celebrated Earth Day on April 24th with the theme Planet vs. Plastics. This year, the National Earth Day organization set a goal of reducing global plastic production by 60% by 2040. Whatever we can do daily or weekly to conserve and sustain efforts to protect our remarkable planet is what we should be committed to doing.

After a five-year hiatus, the Aeronautical Center was excited to reinstitute "Bring Your Child to Work Day" on April 25th. This year, 73 families participated, with children getting to see and learn about their parent's jobs firsthand. These activities demonstrate the value of education and help young people discover the possibilities of work life and how they can envision their future. By bringing children into the workplace, we all contribute to a more equitable world where everyone can reach their full potential.

Lastly, April is National Records Management and Information Management Month. It was developed to promote good record-keeping. A record can be anything that proves the record of a transaction, be it a document, paper, book, email, photo, recording, video, or other material. Keeping records organized and safe at work or home is essential. As a reminder, there is mandatory training in your eLMS file (Records Management Course #30200806) to keep you updated on why document management is essential.


Michelle Coppedge
Director, Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center

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