Wayne Coley… One of Air Traffic’s Finest
Vol.6 Issue 7

Wayne Coley, Acting Deputy Director for the FAA Academy has seen all the ups and downs, the ins and outs of the air traffic control profession. In fact, there isn’t much that he is not familiar with when it comes to vectoring aircraft and understanding air traffic technologies, while helping to manage an air traffic control facility or training institution. With over 34 years of air traffic experience under his belt, Wayne’s true passion is the basic day-to-day air traffic operations of the FAA’s national air transportation system.

Over the years, Wayne has been involved in many facility tours at the Aeronautical Center; so much so, that he’s often specifically requested because of his ability to take highly complex information and break it down into understandable, meaningful material. Being highly personable, Wayne feels that his biggest career challenge was to learn that it is people that matter, and that they are indeed the FAA’s greatest resource.

As a native North Carolinian, Wayne admires traits of openness, honesty and commitment. His very first job was being a gas station attendant (an occupation where someone actually pumped your gas, checked your oil, and cleaned your windshield)! Growing up, Wayne’s father was a Chemist, so he thought that’s what he wanted to be. But he quickly learned that the chemistry wasn’t just right for him to go into that field. Aviation seemed to be his best fit.

Mr. Coley’s first name is Richard, but he prefers to use his middle name (Wayne) to distinguish between him and his father (whose first name is also Richard). His father’s middle name was Opie – suitable, being from North Carolina. Wayne began his FAA career in 1984 as a Staff Specialist for the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center. He spent 21 years there, learning all the intricacies of providing air traffic services to aircraft operating on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) within controlled airspace. Then in 2005, he accepted a job at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City as an Instructor/Course Coordinator for En Route Training. A couple of years later, he decided to go into management and became the Section and Branch Manager for Plans and Programs in the FAA Academy (AMA-500). Soon thereafter, he became the Deputy and Division Manager of that organization. He also served as Acting Deputy Director of the FAA Academy for a while.

In 2015, Wayne took a detail position as General Manager of Development and Curriculum for Technical Training (AJI-2). Still wanting to grow and gain further experience, he accepted a job as the Support Manager for Training in Indianapolis. Eventually returning to the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, Wayne now serves as Acting Deputy Director for the FAA Academy. Still missing the roots of his real passion, Wayne recently applied for and was accepted to become an Air Traffic Manager at the Honolulu Control Facility.

Wayne recently shared a memorable experience that he’s had with the agency: "As an Air Traffic Controller, (ATC) one of our primary jobs is to issue instructions to any aircraft that we think may be in potential conflict. One time, while vectoring an aircraft into Tulsa, OK, I gave the normal clearance of, ’Cross 30 miles south of Tulsa at and maintain 10-thousand (10,000 feet).’ I then advised the pilot that they had unknown Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic at their 2 o’clock and 10 miles, and recommended they stop at 11-thousand feet until I advised that they were clear of traffic. About 3 minutes later, the pilot radioed, ’If you hadn’t told us about that traffic, and advised us to stop at 11-thousand feet, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have hit that other aircraft. Thank you.’ This was before the days of having Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS), which aircraft use to see and avoid other traffic. I was just doing my job, but this affirmed to me how important a Controller’s job is to the flying public."

As colleagues and friends of the Aeronautical Center bid farewell to Wayne on his new journey, he plans to spend more time jet skiing; but instead of enjoying the lakes of Oklahoma, he’ll be enjoying the waves of Hawaii. Congratulations Wayne. Your Aeronautical Center family wishes you the best!

Wayne Coley (L) briefing Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt about Air Traffic Control.
Wayne at his desk.
Wayne Coley, 2nd from left.
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