The air traffic controller is the man (or woman) in charge of the airport’s tower. It is the person who is tasked with making sure all planes fly in and out of the airport in a safe and orderly manner, and it is considered to be one of the most stressful jobs on the planet because any screw ups can lead to in-air plane crashes, causing the deaths of many air travelers. The position of Air Traffic Controller is certainly NOT a position you might expect to read an arrest report the like the one below, in which a dude was found shirtless, (allegedly) passed out hammered on the floor, completely derelict in his duties.
They say that air travel is safer than driving on the highway, but after reading up on this incident in Arkansas I’m not so sure. Arkansas’ Democrat Gazette reports:
An on-duty air traffic controller was arrested Thursday morning after police said he was intoxicated in the Springdale Municipal Airport tower, according to a police arrest report Thursday.
No one was injured, but the controller position, which communicates with airplanes taking off and landing, is “highly sensitive,” Morgan said..
A city employee found Maschek unconscious on the tower floor about 7:45 a.m. Thursday, Morgan said. A pilot who wanted to take off couldn’t get the tower to respond, Morgan said. The employee found Maschek “passed out in his chair with his shirt off,” according to the police report.
Morgan said he called police, and the airport handled the situation quickly.
Maschek failed field sobriety tests, according to the police report. He showed signs of intoxication, including slurring his speech, swaying on his feet, struggling to follow directions and balancing, according to the report. Police worried Maschek was too intoxicated to climb down a steep ladder to leave the tower and didn’t immediately handcuff him, according to the report.
The controller argued with police over the term “public” when police explained he was arrested in connection with public intoxication, the report shows. Maschek was wearing a black robe and house shoes when he was arrested, according to the report.
Maschek refused a breath test, according to the report. Police didn’t take a blood sample, Lewis said. No information was available in the police report to show a level of intoxication. He denied intoxication, the report shows.
I’ve always preferred the ‘Great American Road Trip’ over flying, when applicable. Sure, if I’m flying to Cali for a few days I’m not going to make an attempt to drive there. But these people that fly from NYC to Boston instead of driving or taking the train just baffle me. You can get out on the open road, see our beautiful country, not have to worry about shirtless and drunk air traffic controllers potentially causing your plane to crash into another plane on the runway.
When you’re cruising down that highway with the windows down, speakers blaring ‘Free Bird’ at full blast you don’t have to worry about the drunk man in the tower. All you have to worry about is that dude on the rice rocket trying to cut you off while going 100mph, or that grandma going 45mph in the left lane…which all things considered is a lot safer than a drunk air traffic controller.