Airway Pioneer Member
John M. Coppinger

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I was born in West Reading, PA in 1933 and shortly after WWII our family moved to California. Attended Richmond Hi School and joined the Air Force in 1951. Following basic at Lackland AFB in Texas attended control tower school at Keesler AFB, MS and from there to my first facility assignment at Norton AFB in So. Calif. After six months volunteers were solicited for a new Air Force Base opening at Oxnard north of Los Angeles. Not sure about volunteering I did anyway and helped to open a brand new tower but, as yet, a base with no aircraft. Eventually a squadron of F-51s transferred in from Long Beach and we were in business - the 51s were an air defense unit for the west coast. Reassigned to Keesler for GCA school in 1953 and upon return to Oxnard worked the tower for a few months while awaiting arrival of our MPN-11B GCA unit. After it was commissioned and in operation for about a year I transferred back to Norton to help open their GCA unit. It was there that I received my discharge in 1955.

I had a short stint as a radio broadcaster in San Bernardino and Bishop, Calif. but left to join the CAA in 1956. My interview was the day of the Grand Canyon mid-air. Following ATC school my first assignment was to Las Vegas combined/station tower (CS/T), then on to Ontario CS/T, San Francisco Tower, Honolulu Tower and Bay TRACON. My first supervisor position was at Palo Alto Tower in 1972 and after two years returned to Bay TRACON as an Asst. Chief (Watch Supervisor). During my 6 years at Bay I served as Acting Operations Officer, Acting Deputy Chief and Operations Officer. Transferred to the Northwest Region in 1980 as an Operations Specialist and from there moved to positions as Deputy at Sea-Tac Tower, Manager at Boeing Tower and my last facility prior to retirement in 1994, Air Traffic and Hub Manager at Portland Tower/TRACON.

Since retirement I've taken up golf which I thoroughly enjoy but am still waiting to learn Tiger's secrets! Worked a couple years as a driver for a town car service in Portland. Also am working as an extra and have done several movies filmed in the Portland area. Cam and I (married now for 42 years) live in Oregon and have traveled to Europe twice and now spend time motoring up and down I-5 visiting our two daughters and their families - one lives in Washington State and the other in California. With a lifetime enjoyment of singing I now find a lot of it with two groups one of which has been in existence since 1946 belting away big band jazz numbers. For the future, Cam and I hope to do some more travel in foreign countries.

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