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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NATCO: End of an Era

Tomorrow I will travel to the Airbus Training Center in Miami Florida for bounces. (That thing reserve pilots do every three months to see if we remember how to land the plane.) Why Miami?

Seattle to Miami... a journey in itself!

NATCO is officially shutdown. 

Northwest Airlines Training Corporation. Known as Northwest Airlines Training Center.

Three months ago, one of my simulators was still on property. Now they have all moved to their final resting place. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to say good-bye to my home away from home.

Now for those of you who remember... take a journey down memory lane.

 Once upon a time this lot was full.

Three months ago, one of my simulators was still on property. Since then, they moved them all. I had an opportunity to say good-bye to my home away from home.

Not only did I spend 12 years instructing in the 747-200 here for Northwest Airlines, but in another life I instructed on the 757 in this building with Guyana. 

During the Guyana days we had the 2200-0200 sessions, and snacks included vending machine coffee and Famous Amos cookies. Someone handed me an application one night and as he said, "Northwest is closing their acceptance of applications in two days. You need to get one in."  I filled it out that night and brought it back the next morning.

Filling this building were some great people, and Tim Olson was one of the best. As a new hire, I was recruited to write the 747-200 recurrent training program and invited to be an instructor. You can imagine the 'talk on the line' hiring a 'New Hire' for such a task. One of the greatest benefits was meeting Tim. At the time he was the Director over both the 200 and 400, and always had a smile and something nice to say. 

15-years later, who should I see retired and instructing at NATCO during my last visit? It was great to see you again Tim!

 The last operating desk 747-400 (Now gone)
 One of my students hung on to the very last.

Life is short, and change happens. What was once filled with life and activity, is filled with nothing but space and memories. If halls could talk, the stories they would tell. NATCO was a huge part of my life. I learned, grew, wrote training programs, was type-rated on both the 747-200 and 747-400, and instructed for many years as a 747-200 Second Officer. I trained all Guyana's pilots on the 757 at NATCO. I met great people, many characters, and will miss it all.

My last walk through the building felt like a ghost town.


Eulogies accepted in the comment section

Enjoy the Journey it goes by in a flash. 

XO Karlene


  1. Karlene: what an ever so beautiful tribute to a place many called home. Your photos are a testament of what a building is and how this building was the building blocks for the skills of so many pilots that I am proud to say served our beloved NWA. 12 years... I am rest assured these pilots received the best training from the best teachers. Yes - you! Even though this building is an empty shell, the legacy an spirits of so much and so many still fill the interior..

    1. Thank you so much Jeremy. Yes, a lot of creation, education, and fun occurred in these walls.

      An empty shell for sure. But we'll see what the new owners do with it.

  2. That's so sad! Why did they shut down?

    1. Merger... and they needed to move all training to Atlanta. Or are in the process. That's the thing about big business... they save money and move toward efficiency, but so many lives are turned upside down. Is there a better answer?

  3. While one door closes, another opens. It is sad to see places where you have so many memories close down. And that's how it should be too, it means that that place has a special meaning to you.

    1. Yes, isn't that true. There is always another door. When things like this happen, you realize how much people's lives are impacted who work their daily. This didn't impact my life, but there were so many daily workers who drove to work. But... change happens and it's a good thing. Right? :)

  4. I got to give Katie in the cafeteria a goodbye hug. She served me my first coffee there (post-interview) and my last (last 330-currency)... Lets not forget about all the ancillary good people that worked there!

  5. like Carlos Rodriguez :-)


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