Up in the air - traffic controller lets son direct planes

4 March 2010

Take Your Child To Work Day is very admirable, but there are some professionals who shouldn't get involved. Prison wardens. Open heart surgeons. Air traffic controllers. Specifically, air traffic controllers at one the busiest airports in the world, serving a city full of people petrified by anything larger than a pigeon flying overhead.

Yes, one air traffic controller at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York thought it'd be fun to not only take his kid into work, but let junior live on the microphone and direct the planes. No, really. The exchanges between the school-aged child and jets waiting to take off from JFK became public after they were recorded and posted on LiveATC.net, a site streaming live feeds from air traffic control towers. While the child only appears to be repeating information passed on by his father, it's fair to say dad should probably have been concentrating on more pertinent matters - such as avoiding aviation disasters:

The Federal Aviation Administration said a controller and a supervisor have been placed on administrative leave as it investigates. FAA boss Randy Babbitt called the incident a 'lapse in judgment'. No, over-cooking the sprouts is a lapse in judgment - messing about with your kid at work while several thousand souls circle above your head is madness.

TOPICS:   Travel


  • Rob L.
    I immediately thought Randy Babbitt was a name you'd made up. Appears not: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Babbitt
  • Sim
    bit of overkill here isn't it. Did he say anything that wasn't confirmed by the other atc voice immediately? Wasn't all the talk purely at the planes that would be queued up to leave -- so not the riskiest part of the flight tbh.
  • Gunn
    Aren't kids the perfect parrots? Was the kid suddenly going to make up his own instructions. This early training could make him one of the best ATC in the world
  • Nobby
    I also don't really see the problem. The dad was there to correct any mistakes. Any kid doing what their parent tells them to one a take-your-kid-to-work-day could make mistakes.
  • Fella-Tio
    cant see problem tbh
  • Tony
    **IF** anyone close to you had been injured or killed when this took place, would you or your loved ones be saying "I really don't see the problem here...." Just because there wasn't an actual problem, doesn't mean that it was right to do it in the first place. ATC's are put in a very responsible position - to keep everyone safe. This was a very irresponsible thing to do.
  • Tom P.
    @ Tony Shut the fuck up
  • me
    For fuck sake. nothing wrong with dad. they should do the same on London Underground at least the kids could pretend better that they are actually driving the trains.
  • Tony
    Cheers Tom - really useful post.....at keast your picture has vague similarities to actuality
  • Nobby
    > ATC’s are put in a very responsible position – to keep everyone safe. This was a very irresponsible thing to do. The dad was there supervising the kid, presumably ready to take over if anything was wrong. It's not like he was left to do the job while dad was off for a tea break.
  • Steve B.
    Meanwhile on the other side of the pond, this would be seen as a distinct step up in the level of service provided. I nearly chewed through the seat in front of me the other week whilst stuck in another 45 minute holding pattern above Heathrow. I would have chewed through it if I wasn't muzzled and strapped firmly to my seat, and not actually been in an aeroplane at the time, rather high on a heady mixture of methylated spirits and strong mexicana mushrooms.
  • Steve B.
    I tell you what - I've just listed to the full recording. That kid really knows his shit. Don't see what the fuss is about.. So yeah, @ Tony : shut the fuck up. Go back to your Express.
  • Jack
    I can't see what the problem with, just a kid with his Dad at work, pilots aren't going to take fresh instructions they aren't expecting from a kid that haven't been confirmed. Its a shame some people found / reported it, you can't get away with anything these days

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