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.