Saturday, March 13, 2010

No Kids Allowed!

Absurd, don't you think? The incident of the kids in the control tower at JFK last week. You remember how the controllers got in trouble for it?

Preposterous, you say? Me too. Think about it: How dare they? What an abomination! A screw-up of colossal proportions that must not go unpunished and un-made-an-example-of. (Is there a better word for that?)

They let the kids talk on the radio! Ludicrous
! Kids need to be banished forever from the crucial expanses of our tower cabs. Why, their controller-parents might just decide the kids are pretty darn good at the job, and might take a coffee break, go down to the lounge and leave them working the cab alone. It could happen, you know! We've got to stop it.

This is the kind of disastrous irresponsi
bility that must be vetted out and laid open so that the knowledgeable, all-knowing, enlightened, aviation-savvy public can see and throw hot stones of indignation at. Heads must roll, say the talking heads on radio and TV.

Never mind that every accident or near-miss that ever occurred on an airport that was the tower's fault happened without a kid in the tower.

And never mind a plane with 50 trusting passengers stalled and spun out of control in Buffalo because two undisciplined, untrained, unskilled under-paid and un-rested tyros pretended to be airline pilots. That's old news. And that takes too much money to fix. Let's let that one fade. We need
something new to jump on.

Maybe I'll be jumped on next. Last week I let a kid visit the cockpit before departure. His rapid-fire questions and effusive enthusiasm caused me to suffer a lapse in judgment. I picked up the handset and let him say, “Hi Mom,” on the aircraft PA. Then I threw all caution to the wind and asked him if he would like to start a jet engine. His eyes widened. His head nodded vigorously. "Not the main jet engines," I told him, "just the little one way back in the tail―the APU."

I opened the side window so that he could hear it spool-up and showed him the start switch. He twisted the switch, heard the engine begin to whine, and watched the lite-off on the EGT gauge. My first officer sat on his side grinning and said to me, “You'll be on CNN tonight.” I looked back down the isle and saw numerous heads leaning out looking toward the cockpit.

So, what's next? I guess I'll soon be seeing a rule come out saying I can't let a kid visit my cockpit before departure. When that happens I think it'll be time for my cursum perficio.

(What about dogs?)

Quote of the post: "If the Wright Brothers were alive today Wilbur would fire Orville to reduce costs."
--Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines

Many good comments on the previous post. But one of these days I hope to piss somebody off.


Ryan said...

Absolutely fantastic post!



Lakotahope said...

I think it is great that you even are allowed to have the cockpit door open on the ground... Anyway, I remember in the mid 60's or so, as a real young kid, I was invited to go to the cockpit with other kids. The captain pointed out a switch and told me to toggle it or push it. I absolutely refused--I wasn't going to be suckered into breaking something. Well, another kid did it and it seemed to me that all of the panel lights lit up. That's how I remember it!!! Silly pilot setting me up...NO Way....I wished I had lit 'em up.

Mark Richards said...

As one too old to enter this wonderful profession, I did have the rare opportunity to spend a transatlantic cruise with a fine Swissair crew in their A-320. Early 2000 before all the paranoia and nonsense. Their trust and kindness has never been forgotten.

This little point in time, although taken for granted now by so many crews, was for me a turning point. I saw and felt and took in the mixture of technology, skill, humanity, service, and the aviation art. Today I am still amazed how it all comes together every day, at the flight levels, in the dispatch centres, in the maintenance hangars, simulators...

My son, perhaps (hopefully) following my interests had a similar opportunity last year (now, of course, on the ground). He sat in the left seat. A 7 year old with a hat that nearly covered his wide eyes.

Perhaps you have encountered the Decision Height in more places than expected. Such as on the ground with that child at that moment.

The choice was correct.

I can speak from personal experience.

Rob said...

I was (am? When do I get stop stop being one) a child both before and after the locking of the cockpit door. My visits to the cockpit both in the air and on the ground were life changing, every time.

I have always been stunned by the welcoming nature of pilots to share their passion and assist others get a leg up. I once asked a Captain (big C) how I could repay him. He replied 'When you get to my age, help out some youngster. When I was ur age, someone helped me, and someone helped him. It's a cycle.'

That advice has stuck with me forever

Captainjba said...

Alan-Having watched "Alice" the other day in 3D, it appears to me some of the Red Queen's minons have escaped and are now running around the press rooms across America screaming,"Off with their heads!" in unison with those buffoons at the FAA and Congress who would overlook the real issues that have hurt and killed so many. Put a warm pig as their foot stool and send them on their way! John

Daniel said...

I, too, was lucky enough as a kid to be allowed up to the cockpit in flight. My father arranged the visit, and I'm sure secretly I was just an excuse so that he could go and see the action from the pointy end. I'm told our eyes lit up the same when the stewardess came and asked if we'd like to come up and visit the cockpit.

It is a huge shame that today's children are not allowed this small privilege, thanks to the actions of a few idiots and the overreaction of our legislators. I do my best by taking non-flying friends out for trips in my small aircraft, as most of my pilot friends do, but we cannot impress as many enthusiastic kids as you airline pilots used to.

Anonymous said...

Flying kids in your Yak is somethin gI am sure you also do. Good on you.
David H.

Bernie said...

Bravo! I hope the kid graduates number one in his class at the Blue Zoo.