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Cmdr. Christian Sloan assumes command of NOAA Aircraft Operations Center

On Dec. 2, Capt. Timothy Gallagher turned over command of the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) to Cmdr. Christian Sloan during a ceremony inside the center's hangar in Lakeland, Florida. The change-of-command ceremony was officiated by NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations Deputy Director for Operations Rear Adm. (Lower Half) Nancy Hann, who also serves as deputy director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

During the ceremony, Gallagher thanked family, friends and the entire AOC team for their support, highlighting the talents, expertise and teamwork that makes the AOC team so successful.

“To me the most important aspect about everything we do at AOC is that we always take the journey together as a team,” said Gallagher. “Please know how much I value the strength and expertise that each one of you brings to the table. For it is only through that diversity and working together that AOC has accomplished so much and will continue to be successful, regardless of what lies ahead or over the horizon.”

Under Gallagher’s command, AOC aircraft and crews flew more than 5,000 hours annually. His team was recognized with Department of Commerce Bronze Medal awards, and earned re-designation as Safety Management System Level 3 organization, the highest possible distinction. He also led AOC during the initial acquisition phase for two new aircraft currently on order, a Gulfstream G550 and King Air 350CER. Combined with this command tour, Gallagher has dedicated nearly 12 years in support of AOC. During his two previous AOC assignments, he served as chief of the center’s operations and maintenance branches, and successfully coordinated logistics for the center’s move from MacDill Air Force Base to Lakeland, Florida, in 2017.

Sloan assumes command after having served as AOC’s senior navigator and deputy chief of the center’s aircraft maintenance branch since 2017. Sloan served as a P-3 navigator in the U.S. Navy before being selected for an inter-service transfer to the NOAA Corps in 2009. He is a qualified WP-3D hurricane navigator and instructor navigator.

In 2014, he was selected as NOAA’s first Global Hawk mission director and is a NASA-qualified mission director and NASA/U.S. Air Force range controller.

Gallagher closed the ceremony, saying, “In these exciting and dynamic times for AOC, I can think of no officer better positioned than Cmdr. Sloan to take the helm and continue our great progress and facilitate the full potential of AOC. More than that, he is committed to each of you among the AOC team and to your individual growth and success. I leave you in his most capable hands.”