Retired Air Traffic Controller Shares His Story


It’s not often someone keeps one career their entire working life, but one man wouldn’t have it any other way.

Darrel Pittman stands with his parents in the photo above. He knew even then he wanted to be around airplanes for life.

Pittman explains, “It’s my life and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Darrel Pittman is a retired Air Traffic Controller.

For 30 years, he was responsible for the safety of each person aboard an aircraft he led to landing.

He says, “It’s an extreme responsibility.”

The job took him across the country and put him through situations most can only imagine.

Pittman shares, “The first hijacking I ever had was at Oakland Center and that was probably the most famous.”

It was in 1983 that Pittman came to Bismarck after a massive, nationwide air strike. President Reagan ultimately fired 11,000 controllers who refused to return to work within 48 hours.

He adds, “It was a really tough struggle. Since that time, you know, we’ve rebuilt the system to what it is today.”

And North Dakota was meant to be. Pittman met his wife Marlette here the same year.

Marlette Pittman shares, “One night I was at the grocery store. It was New Year’s Eve and I turn around and start talking to the man behind me, and he is so nice.”

And tonight they stand together as Pittman presents his first autobiography.

She adds, “Before we were married, he had a whole lot of life, a lot of his life you know. So we spent a lot of time talking about things that I didn’t really know a lot about.”

Pittman credits his wife for encouraging him to share his story.

If you want to hear more about Pittman’s 30-year career, you can find this book at the vintage shop in Buckstop Junction.

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