Aviation News

March 3, 2010

Little Kid Takes Over JFK Airport Control Tower

lego airport kid

The FAA says it has benched an undisclosed number of air traffic controllers from their regular duties as they investigate an incident in which a young boy is heard giving instructions to departing aircraft from the JFK Airport control tower. According to a recording found on the air traffic control database at LiveATC.net, the incident happened on February 17th.

At one point during the course of the child’s five transmissions, an adult male voice in the tower explains the situation to local air traffic: “This is what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.”

The pilots involved seem to get a kick out of hearing a kid on the radio, but Jim Baker, a retired Delta Air Lines chief pilot, interviewed by Fox 25 News in Boston (which broke this story), thinks it’s no laughing matter.

[wpaudio url=”http://nycaviation.com/newspage/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/kid-jfk-controller-032010.mp3″ text=” JFK Control Tower – Little Kid Giving Takeoff Clearances” dl=”0″]

“I’m sure the controller is probably a tremendous controller, but not a wise move, not a wise move. Not in this day and age,” said Baker.

Truth be told we might be a little jealous of the kid on the radio. Based on the recordings, the youngster did a great job and we’re sure he had an amazingly fun time doing it. But controllers sometimes make mistakes even without the distraction of children in the tower.



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  • Doug McDonald

    WHAT WERE THEY THINKING, GIVE THE JOB TO SOME ONE WHO WILL TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.
    PEOPLE DONT THINK, STUPID STUPID STUPID.

    • Blue

      Supervisor didn't think. He had the final call.

  • Doug McDonald

    WHAT WERE THEY THINKING, GIVE THE JOB TO SOME ONE WHO WILL TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.
    PEOPLE DONT THINK, STUPID STUPID STUPID.

    • Blue

      Supervisor didn't think. He had the final call.

  • Makes me want to jump on a plane. Wonder if MDs and RNs could get by with this type of malpractice?

    • Phil

      poor statement

    • Guest

      Malpractice? WHY DO YOU GUYS HATE CHILDREN?

      I never heard so much wineing over nothing before, good lord! Why do we gotta freak out about things theat never happened, No lives were threatened, nobody was in jeperdy, I don't think anyone was even insulted or frightened. GET A SPINE AMERICA!

  • Makes me want to jump on a plane. Wonder if MDs and RNs could get by with this type of malpractice?

    • Phil

      poor statement

    • Guest

      Malpractice? WHY DO YOU GUYS HATE CHILDREN?

      I never heard so much wineing over nothing before, good lord! Why do we gotta freak out about things theat never happened, No lives were threatened, nobody was in jeperdy, I don't think anyone was even insulted or frightened. GET A SPINE AMERICA!

  • I have a better idea, on take your kid to work day let the kid fly a plane.

    • Joe

      No.

  • I have a better idea, on take your kid to work day let the kid fly a plane.

    • Joe

      No.

  • Blue

    Complete BS if you ask me. The supervisor should have been suspended not the controller(s). They asked permission if the kid could make the transmissions.

  • Blue

    Complete BS if you ask me. The supervisor should have been suspended not the controller(s). They asked permission if the kid could make the transmissions.

  • Ben – Navy_ATC

    If it were a mom & pop airport I would still be concerned, much less a high sortie airport

  • Ben – Navy_ATC

    If it were a mom & pop airport I would still be concerned, much less a high sortie airport

  • andrew

    teh kid did a better job than a lot of controllers, and was nicer too, I am a pilot, i say hire the kid, NY controllers could use his enthusiasm

    • Matthew Bergen

      I kind of agree, but five transmissions is pushing it. If it was only one, this might have been a different story.

  • andrew

    teh kid did a better job than a lot of controllers, and was nicer too, I am a pilot, i say hire the kid, NY controllers could use his enthusiasm

    • Matthew Bergen

      I kind of agree, but five transmissions is pushing it. If it was only one, this might have been a different story.

  • Janaye

    I think it was safe, his father was there, everyone else takes their kids to work for career day, why not the controller, his kid knows more about air traffic then any of us… FAA should be proud, for once they had a competent airtraffic controller aboard….
    Thats the American way, teach your kids your trade… see how things are made now because someone learns from a BOOK!!

    • Matthew Bergen

      So damn true! If the kid messed up the dad could get on and fix it. I still think 5 transmissions was not really necessary.

  • Janaye

    I think it was safe, his father was there, everyone else takes their kids to work for career day, why not the controller, his kid knows more about air traffic then any of us… FAA should be proud, for once they had a competent airtraffic controller aboard….
    Thats the American way, teach your kids your trade… see how things are made now because someone learns from a BOOK!!

    • Matthew Bergen

      So damn true! If the kid messed up the dad could get on and fix it. I still think 5 transmissions was not really necessary.

  • Where has our common sense gone? No, not that we shouldn't allow kids into a control tower under very controlled circumstances, but the hysteria that somehow this was extremely dangerous.

    In this world of "political correctness" everyone is watched by everyone else and second guessed. From what I could hear and understand no one (except our impotent FAA and the news media hysteria group) took this as anything other than what it was – an innocent event.

    Get a life, folks!

    John
    JetAviator7, Publisher, http://all-things-aviation.com

  • Where has our common sense gone? No, not that we shouldn't allow kids into a control tower under very controlled circumstances, but the hysteria that somehow this was extremely dangerous.

    In this world of "political correctness" everyone is watched by everyone else and second guessed. From what I could hear and understand no one (except our impotent FAA and the news media hysteria group) took this as anything other than what it was – an innocent event.

    Get a life, folks!

    John
    JetAviator7, Publisher, http://all-things-aviation.com

  • Gene Delaney

    I feel, from the sound of the tape, that everything was under control. I'm sure his controller dad was very careful when to let him do it. I agree with John's comment, no harm done. As for Fox25 in Boston (where I live) I consider them the Enquirer of TV news, total garbage.

  • Gene Delaney

    I feel, from the sound of the tape, that everything was under control. I'm sure his controller dad was very careful when to let him do it. I agree with John's comment, no harm done. As for Fox25 in Boston (where I live) I consider them the Enquirer of TV news, total garbage.

  • Saber

    Way too much hype over nothing. It was completely under control and I am getting tired of all the pc bs in this country. When I was a kid I got to take the controls of a 10 car freight train (under supervision at 5mph for you nervous nellies), take the controls of a private plane at 9ys old, riding in police and fire trucks with lights and sirens going, shoot an m-16 at an Air Force firing range at 10 and I cannot believe people making a case out of this.

  • Saber

    Way too much hype over nothing. It was completely under control and I am getting tired of all the pc bs in this country. When I was a kid I got to take the controls of a 10 car freight train (under supervision at 5mph for you nervous nellies), take the controls of a private plane at 9ys old, riding in police and fire trucks with lights and sirens going, shoot an m-16 at an Air Force firing range at 10 and I cannot believe people making a case out of this.

  • outrageous media. seriously, why is this a big deal? let it go. The kid OBVIOUSLY was being supervised by his parent. The kid was well understood by the pilots and they were enjoying it, plus he did his "job" perfectly.

  • outrageous media. seriously, why is this a big deal? let it go. The kid OBVIOUSLY was being supervised by his parent. The kid was well understood by the pilots and they were enjoying it, plus he did his "job" perfectly.

  • William Rizzo

    When I was 12 I was allowed into the cockpit of a TWA 747-100 going from STL-LAX, once the flight crew learned it was my 'favorite plane' they let me read the challenges of the before start checklist while the first officer gave the responses. It was, and still is, one of the greatest moments of my life and one that I wouldn't want to take away from any child. Close adult supervision actually does mean something, even still, believe it or not, and is essential to kids' development.

  • William Rizzo

    When I was 12 I was allowed into the cockpit of a TWA 747-100 going from STL-LAX, once the flight crew learned it was my 'favorite plane' they let me read the challenges of the before start checklist while the first officer gave the responses. It was, and still is, one of the greatest moments of my life and one that I wouldn't want to take away from any child. Close adult supervision actually does mean something, even still, believe it or not, and is essential to kids' development.

  • Ray Williams

    The shame is that all the news outlets use phrases that make it sound like the kid was alone in the tower while the controllers went on a break or something. Reality is that with his father hanging on his every word (probably holding the microphone for him) the kid repeated verbatim what his dad told him to say. The kid didn't scan the runways, consult the flight strip, scan the radar and then decide it was ok for takeoff. His dad, the controller, did all the important stuff and then gave the kid a few words to say. OK, so it was five transmissions – so what! Now, instead of having a great memory any child would cherish for the rest of his life (and probably dad also), he'll remember the day his dad got in trouble for letting him talk on the radio at dad's work. Perhaps, in retrospect, it wasn't the best thing to do but it certainly is not worth 1 second of all the air time it has gotten throughout the world.

  • Ray Williams

    The shame is that all the news outlets use phrases that make it sound like the kid was alone in the tower while the controllers went on a break or something. Reality is that with his father hanging on his every word (probably holding the microphone for him) the kid repeated verbatim what his dad told him to say. The kid didn't scan the runways, consult the flight strip, scan the radar and then decide it was ok for takeoff. His dad, the controller, did all the important stuff and then gave the kid a few words to say. OK, so it was five transmissions – so what! Now, instead of having a great memory any child would cherish for the rest of his life (and probably dad also), he'll remember the day his dad got in trouble for letting him talk on the radio at dad's work. Perhaps, in retrospect, it wasn't the best thing to do but it certainly is not worth 1 second of all the air time it has gotten throughout the world.

  • tomw

    I wonder how much some enterprising lawyer will make when he realizes he can find a 'traumatized' passenger whose life was 'endangered by this reckless behavior'.

    Anyone who believes that this controller was endangering anything but his job is a fool.
    tomw

  • tomw

    I wonder how much some enterprising lawyer will make when he realizes he can find a 'traumatized' passenger whose life was 'endangered by this reckless behavior'.

    Anyone who believes that this controller was endangering anything but his job is a fool.
    tomw

  • jhhyhyhg

    i just posted it and it says 3 hours ago

  • jhhyhyhg

    i just posted it and it says 3 hours ago

  • As funny as this was (if you weren't on one of the planes the kid directed !), it does show spectacularly bad judgement by both the controller who gave up his headset and the people around him. That said, good air traffic controllers are hard to find and it is such a high pressure job, so I guess we'll let them off this once !

  • As funny as this was (if you weren't on one of the planes the kid directed !), it does show spectacularly bad judgement by both the controller who gave up his headset and the people around him. That said, good air traffic controllers are hard to find and it is such a high pressure job, so I guess we'll let them off this once !

  • fred

    Atleast he spoke english!!!

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