Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Feel Your Pain

So, just in case you don’t think about these things, I’m supposed to pick a friend of mine up at the airport tonight. He’s flying in from Chicago. The first flight got canceled because of a mechanical problem. The second flight was supposed to leave at 8:30 PM. But, I saw the thunderstorms up there and I bet him he wouldn’t get out before they hit. Sure enough, his plane started taxiing over an hour ago. It isn’t going anywhere soon.


I’ll be out after midnight, for a flight that was supposed to be here at 10:30 PM. You see, controllers (and ex-controllers) have the same problems you do when it comes to our air transportation system. You, however, don’t have the same problems as controllers. Or pilots, flight attendants, dispatchers, ramp workers, etc., etc.

I know that right now the controllers at Chicago, Cleveland and Kansas City Centers are getting whipped. Ditto for Chicago Tracon. The flight attendants are trying to keep the passengers calm and quiet. The pilots are sitting there watching the weather build as they watch their fuel gauges drop.

Perhaps it’s a good time to think about fatigue. I assure you no controller is sleeping. Just as I can assure you that they are all bone tired. The mid-shift guys are probably waking up about now. And as soon as they look at the weather, they’ll know they are going to have a long, hard night.

I suspect my long night will end somewhere around 2 AM. Their night won’t end until 7 AM. I’m going to close my eyes now and take a short nap because I know I’ll need it. The controllers that have to work this mess aren’t allowed to do that. They just have to tough it out -- with my friend flying through their airspace. (Keep telling yourself controllers are just trying to to pad the payroll, Chairman Mica.)

(Still on the taxiway, 1 hour and 26 minutes after pushback.)

Don Brown
April 19, 2011 (1o PM)

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