Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kid Controlling Air Traffic at JFK

So today my lady tags me in a note today on Facebook, putting me on to a news article where a guy brought his kid to JFK airport and allowed his son to direct the air traffic. I found this video on youtube that plays the recording...

Now, I have mixed feelings about this event. Overall, I think it was dangerous and unprofessional of the air traffic controller to bring in a child to direct planes filled with hundreds of passengers at one of the world's busiest airports. A plethora of things could have gone wrong within a matter of seconds that could have costed many people to die. Air Traffic Control is no small matter. It requires knowledge of meteorology, mathematics, management, telecommunications, and an understanding of the principles of flight.

My father brought me to work many times during his tenure with the Atlanta Police Department. I got a chance to meet Eldren Bell (who is now the Commissioner of Clayton County), Thetus Knox (who went on to become the Chief of Police of the City of Riverdale). But never did I respond to a call with my father. Bringing me along taught me a lot about the police profession and about how police departments work.

I am not against the fact that this guy brought his kid to work... only that he allowed his kid to control airplanes with passengers. There are ATC simulators that can simulate the duties of being an Air Traffic Controller, where a person can learn by wrecking virtual planes, instead of real ones, and only virtual lives are lost when someone makes a mistake.

Now... what if this was a very small airport with very little traffic? Perhaps a gliderport? It would be really cool if the FAA could set up internships or summer camps where high school kids could get a taste of being an air dispatcher, after having gone through weeks of training. That would be really good for the FAA's development of future air traffic controllers.


  1. I think the child actually did a great job, but what an idiot the parent is. What do you expect is going to happen if you let your child direct airplanes at one of the world's busiest airports. After second thought, keep the kid at the controls, anything to keep the idiot parent away.

  2. Indeed. The incident itself turned out to be pretty good and the boy obviously is very good at delivering commands that he has been instructed to do, and might probably make a good ATC someday. We can sum this event up as a parent that tried to achieve a very smart idea using a very idiotic method. The smart idea was to allow his kid to learn some of the things that he knows. His choice of actually putting his kid at the controls was an idiotic method of trying to achieve this. What would have been better is to have his kid practice with simulators and model airplanes, or to arrange something where some pilots could get together at an untowered airport.