Safety NCO Achieves Top Graduate

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daniel Gagnon
  • 134 ARW PA
In early 2015, a civilian airline pilot was flying at about 26,000 feet enroute to Charlotte, NC. from Chattanooga TN. when he detected an odd odor.  As he was asking his first officer about it, the aircraft alarm panel displayed a lavatory smoke message and the flight attendant emergency call button sounded off. The flight attendant reported that the cabin area of the jet, where the passengers are seated, was filling with smoke.
The pilots declared an emergency and donned their oxygen masks, so they wouldn't be overcome with smoke as they were making an attempt to land. The pilots immediately started emergency procedures to isolate the source and clear the cabin. By the time the plane landed most of the smoke had cleared.
Due to following standard safety procedures the pilot landed the plane safely, and there were no injuries. That pilot was Tech. Sgt. Jonathan P. Stills, Safety NCO for the 134th Air Refueling Wing.
"I used to be a command post controller and we were very disciplined with checklist usage and responding to unexpected incidences," said Stills. "I think that that discipline was very influential and being able to smoothly run the checklist, do the procedures and fly the plane."
Stills presently flies for PSA, owned by American Airlines, based out of Knoxville. He is also the recent Top Graduate of the Basic Safety Apprentice Course at Lackland AFB, Texas.  He scored the highest overall rating in class on tests, and assigned projects.
The BSAC, a seven week course at Lackland AFB, consists of AFIs relating to safety, OSHA regulations, National Fire Prevention regulations used to inspect buildings, flight and ground safety, industrial safety which incorporates building inspections, electrical issues, and obvious safety hazards.
Stills' military training combined with his civilian job skills results in an individual with a higher level of safety awareness. 
"Obviously they both require adherence to safety standards, in my civilian job I'm responsible for up to 100 lives at one time," said Stills. "So being more alert and more cognizant of minor details on the aircraft and getting things corrected before they can be allowed to lead to a greater danger to people or the aircraft is one of the things that kind of relates the two together."
"Military training in general you're taught to be prepared and ready for anything," he said. "Be disciplined to stay focused on the task."
"It has made me more aware of things when I am at work," he said. "I recognize things a little easier or something with the plane that doesn't seem right. Made me a little more aware."
Safety is for everybody, regardless of any task, big or small. Prevention is a must.
"Safety is not just my responsibility, because I am a safety NCO, said Stills. "It's everyone's responsibility and the little things that you do now can prevent me from having to do an investigation into your accident later."
Stills has experience flying 11 different aircraft. He was previously an Alaskan bush pilot, flying into austere areas where danger abounds. He takes safety very seriously.
"Stills' attention to detail is phenomenal," said Senior Master Sgt. James A. Ledbetter, Occupational Safety and Health Manager at the 134th ARW. "You have to have that when flying a plane."
The Wing Safety Office is here to help and advise Airmen about safety.
"When safety (personnel) comes around, we are not trying to be the bad guys," said Stills. "Safety is just trying to make sure that we're ready and that ultimately we limit or preferably prevent injuries and damages due to unsafe acts." 
"We are white hat," said Ledbetter.  "We are really here to help you."