We can come together as a Nation – and our future depends on it

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I had stepped away from posting for these past few weeks for a variety of reasons. These included family responsibilities as well as other factors.

But one big reason – and the thing that had me finally take to the keyboard again – is seeing so much divisiveness and negativity continuing long after the election. We’re only days away from the new President from taking office and still there are polls calling for a special election, celebrities saying how they’re flaunting the inauguration, racial incidents occurring across the country and a pervasive atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that spills out in practically every conversation, article and news item you see, read or hear.

Although I risk being lambasted (at best) by readers and critics alike for what I’m about to offer, still I feel it’s important that it be said.

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FAA suspends JFK's errant air traffic controllers

JetBlueAuthroities have suspended an air traffic controller and a supervisor at JFK after the controller allowed his son to direct several pilots from the control tower.

“This lapse in judgment not only violated FAA’s own policies, but common-sense standards for professional conduct. These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement. 

The air traffic controller allowed his son to read some routine instructions to pilots, then brought another child to work the next day.

Pilots seemed amused and pleased. “I wish I could bring my kid to work,” one of them said.

All this was brought to light when a recording of the radio calls was posted on the internet, then reported by a Boston television station. Such transmissions are routinely streamed live on the internet. One user of the popular site LiveATC.net, which is devoted to air controller talk, posted the recording not long after it occurred on February 16th, when New York schoolchildren were on winter break.

According to the recording, the boy made five transmissions to pilots readying for departure.

Control towers are generally highly secure areas, though the agency sometimes gives employees permission to bring their children for a tour.

Dave Pascoe, founder of LiveATC and a pilot and radio enthusiast, said he was sickened at the thought that the controller could be disciplined.

“I believe that this is being blown out of proportion,” he said. “This is just a completely controlled situation. A child was being told exactly what to say.”

He added: “I think it’s just fantastic that this guy cared enough to take his kid to work. How many parents take their kids to work these days?”

Is this a case of the FAA coming down hard to avoid a media frenzy? What do you readers think?

From the mouth of babes (uh, I mean kids)

JFK's air traffic control tower

JFK's air traffic control tower

We’ve all heard of “Take your Son / Daughter to Work” days. Okay, but in New York, the idea may have gone too far.

A just released audio reveals that in February a child directed pilots from the air traffic control center at John F. Kennedy Airport, one of our country”s busiest airports. The Federal Aviation Association has said it’s investigating.

In an official statement, the FAA said “This behavior is not acceptable and does not demonstrate the kind of professionalism expected from all FAA employees.”

In mid-February, schoolchildren throughout the New York area had a week-long winter break. The audiotapes show that during that time kids authorizing pilot take-off wasn’t a single incident.

JFK control tower.2A child can be heard on tape making five transmissions to pilots. 

In one instance, the child can be heard saying, JetBlue 171 contact departure.” The pilot responds: “Over to departure JetBlue 171, awesome job.”

The child appears to be under an adult’s supervision, because a male voice then comes on and laughingly says, “That’s what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.”

In another exchange, the youngster clears another plane for takeoff, and says, “Adios, amigo.” The pilot responds in kind.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said children of the tower’s employees are allowed to visit but need to get approval from the FAA first.

The union representing air traffic controllers condemned the workers’ behavior.

Was this a potentially dangerous situation? Or was it a Dad giving his kid a chance to try their hand at something amazing, to inspire him / her, while closely monitoring for “just in case”?

What do you think?