Now You See It, Now You Don't NOTAM Controllers at Denver Center saved the day when a VFR aircraft approached an uncontrolled runway obstructed by construction equipment.

On September 22, 2016, a single-engine Cessna was en route to Granby-Grand County Airport, a non-towered, mountainous airport in northern Colorado.

Denver Center controller Natalie Aanerud was training developmental controller Adrian Lamport, who advised the pilot of an active Notice to Airmen – or NOTAM -- that the Granby-Grand airport was closed due to construction. But just a few minutes later, the notice was canceled.

Adrian Lamport and Natalie Aanerud (Photo: FAA)

The pilot continued his flight without any ATC services. Suddenly, Aanerud noticed a new message flashing on her display – a new NOTAM actually extending the airport closure. Lamport quickly attempted to contact the pilot.

No response. With no way to directly contact the Cessna, who was now off the controller’s frequency, they found another GA pilot to reach him. It worked. The Cessna pilot flying toward to Granby came back on the frequency.

With that information, the pilot made a low pass over the airport, and saw construction equipment, including a crane and semitrailer, on the runway where he had intended to land. Fortunately he had enough fuel to travel 40 miles east of Granby to safely land at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan airport.

An aerial view of Granby-Grand County Airport (Photo: Colorado DOT)

Quick thinking and action by the controllers saved the day in the nick of time.

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