Thursday, November 03, 2005

Forget Dirty Bombs

Apparantly Al Qaeda can take us down with raccoon crap

Islip's controllers, finding work areas fouled, guide airport's jets from the ground using emergency plan

November 2, 2005 A marauding animal - most likely a raccoon - left feces on crucial equipment in the control tower of Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip early yesterday, forcing air traffic controllers to guide planes from the ground in an emergency procedure that hasn't been used in decades.The airport remained open and there were no delays. But controllers spent 2 1/2 hours landing planes and clearing them for takeoff with only a partial view of the runway, using battery-powered backup communication devices. At 6 a.m., a controller who was opening the tower for the morning discovered animal feces on the handset, keyboard and monitor of his position, said Jim Wecht, the union representative for controllers at the tower, which closes at midnight."
"The coffee pot was overturned; there was garbage all over the place," he said.

Shortly after 7 a.m., Wecht made the decision to close the tower until it could be properly cleaned. The controllers headed to the firehouse and followed emergency procedures for guiding aircraft.

"We could only see 20 percent of the field," Wecht said, "but it was better than closing the airport." One controller remained in the tower until the others could get situated in the firehouse.

By 9:34 a.m., maintenance crews from the airport and the Federal Aviation Administration had cleaned up the tower and the staff returned.

Animal control crews from the Town of Islip came in yesterday afternoon and set three traps, hoping to catch the animal overnight. The tower is owned by the town and leased by the FAA.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said it appears the animal got in through a shaft that carries cables from the ground to the tower cab just above the sixth floor.

Controllers said they noticed problems in the building, which is separate from the airport terminal, on Sunday, when debris was found in the fourth-floor break room where a window had been left open because of problems with the heating system.

"We thought it was a bird," said one controller who works in the tower. On Monday, it appeared an animal had gotten into a box of condiments including ketchup packages in the break room. But it was yesterday morning's find of feces that forced the controllers to decide to abandon the tower. Wecht said the procedure hadn't been used in more than 30 years.

Wecht said the union has complained about the condition of the tower, which was built in 1962, for years.

"We had buckets on the floor during the recent rains," he said.

Meanwhile, he was hopeful the perpetrator of the vandalism would be in a trap by this morning. "We leave at midnight," he said. "They'll catch him when no one's around.",0,3044650.story?coll=ny-top-headlines&track=mostemailedlink


Blogger Jeff said...

Apparently PATCO--the only national union to have endorsed Ronald Reagan in his 1980 presidential bid--though significantly weakened by the crushing blow dealt them by their hero, was ultimately able to preserve the clause in their contract exempting them from handling raccoon shit. Another modest victory for organized labor.

3:59 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

I believe they also got a keg of beer in exchange for their dental plan.

7:09 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Stupid sexy Reagan, screwing the unions like that.

I remember talking to one of the managers at the Revere Plant down in Clinton, which was closing, and just being horrified at his love for machines replacing humans. He had literally grown fat on the work of others.

What I'll have to be convinced of is that somehow the NAFTA loving payroll-tax increasing Democrats actually give a raccoon's shit about working humans.

8:57 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

I think the air traffic controllers need a better union. A friend of mine is one outside of Cleveland and someone got the bright idea that they should change the directions of planes flying at certain altitudes (so that whatever elevation at which planes fly east would be changed to west, or something to that effect).

I remember thinking that such a change could not possibly have made anyone's lives easier at the tower.

9:01 AM  

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