Embry-Riddle graduate recounts working air traffic control when Southwest plane engine exploded

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — As an Embry-Riddle Eagle, Cory Davids caught his share of curve balls and, as an air traffic controller, he helped with the emergency landing of the Southwest flight on which an engine explode in mid-air in April.

"I kind of knew something was wrong because they were turning left. They were descending. That's when she told me they had an engine fire and that the engine was out,” Davids said.

Radio traffic captured the whole process.

Davids: "Southwest 1380, Are you…you're descending right now?"
Pilot: "Yeah, we're single-engine descending. Have a fire in No. 1."

After majoring in air traffic management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Davids went to work at the New York Center in Long Island, which was where he was stationed during the emergency.

Because of his location, it was hard for Davids not to think about 9/11 for a brief moment.

"When they were putting the masks on, it kind of sounded like a struggle in the aircraft, in the cockpit,” he said.

But then the pilot told him the plane blew an engine and needed to land immediately.

And as he did so many times on the baseball field, Davids lined up with his nine teammates, and together they cleared planes from the sky.

"It's like going on I-4 to Orlando from Daytona at rush hour and kind of turning around and going in the opposite direction of traffic and moving all those cars out of the way,” he said.

At 29-years-old, this rare emergency was the most serious Davids said he ever helped with.