Wednesday, March 3, 2010
New York, NY
An air traffic controller at New York's Kennedy Airport is suspended, along with his supervisor, for allowing his cat to radio instructions to several pilots.
The cat, a 9-year-old, neutered, Domestic Short Hair named Waffles, was said to be playing with string and doing Sudoku at the time he was on the headset to pilots.
“(Waffles) was having so much fun watching all the little thingies on the screen move around,” said air traffic controller Bryce Dean, a 32-year-old Human. “It was so fun to watch him!”
This was not the first time Waffles had been at the helm according to Bryce
The short verbal exchanges between the cat and jets in the air around NY airspace appeared to delight pilots at the time. "I wish I could bring my cat to work," one pilot said.
Bryce, who is not married, said he often brings Waffles to work, sometimes dressed in cute outfits, but usually drops him off at the library or movies while he works his shift.
The FAA has suspended Bryce and his supervisor, whose parrot, Pete was also found in the tower, after recordings of the exchanges were posted on LOLcat sites and was reported on by a local television station.
Waffles urged pilots to “buzz the tower”
"This lapse in judgment not only violated FAA's own policies, but common sense standards for professional conduct,” the FAA said. ”These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable, there should never be Sudoku in the towers.”
On the recording, which lasts about a twenty-five minutes, the cat appears to repeat instructions fed to him by Bryce and others in the room. At one time the cat told one aircraft to “buzz the tower, just so I know you’re listening.”
There are a few more similar exchanges. A pilot laughs. The cat and the parrot, Pete, can be overheard giggling.
Both Waffles and Pete were overheard giggling on the recordings
In his last call, the cat signs off, "later." The pilot responds in kind.
The FAA is investigating and also said it has since barred unofficial visits by pets or relatives to FAA air traffic operational areas while it reviews its policies.
Copyright Sharyn Thoma
Tower Pics: Associated Press, FAA
Posted by The Kitty City Gazette at 1:50 PM