Air Traffic Controller In Control

The news that a JFK International Airport air traffic controller allowed his two young children to clear several planes for departure and takeoff at one of the world’s busiest airports made all the headlines this past week.  Newscasts lead with the story, and late night programs had a field day with it.   People (not me) were left with the impression that our skies are unsafe, adding to the sense that our borders are unprotected, that our streets are unsafe and for those on the right that our country is going down the path of socialized medicine.  Folks are scared.  The fear mongers are working feverishly to convince us all that a terrorist might be just around the corner and that only a well-armed neighborhood militia like that being organized in Bossier Parish, Louisiana can protect us from a government that cannot be trusted.   I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future the tea party “movement” begins to call for states to secede  from the union.

So what’s all the fuss about bringing your kid to work?  If you have a job,  wouldn’t you want your kids to see what you do everyday?  Big deal if if dad whispered to his kid to say “ready for takeoff”.  It’s not like he handed over a group of planes on the radar screen to the 9 year old and said “ok Jr., bring ’em in.”  And the pilots who received the supervised instructions had no problems with them (probably knew they were coming in advance), even thought they were cute and delivered with professionalism.

Should those kids have been in the booth?  Probably not.  Should the air traffic controller be reprimanded? Yes.  But he shouldn’t lose his license or be fired.  And I think the media should tread lightly on this story.  There are two children who are victims in this, who are no doubt embarrassed by the actions of a loving father who made a lapse in judgment.  Ok, I know, we don’t need air traffic controllers having lapses in judgment, but lighten up America.  Stress is one of the biggest problems that pilots and air traffic controllers face.  Injecting a little humor into the day with a harmless supervised command over the intercom system only brought smiles to faces, not danger to the skies.

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