Air Traffic Controllers Get High, Snack, & Nap While Pilots’ Calls Go Unanswered

by Adam

In a report released yesterday and obtained by the Miami Herald, it appears that air traffic controllers in charge of Boise Airport Boise and at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport were high, snacking, and sleeping rather than providing directions and runway details to pilots. Apparently a hospital helicopter and a private aircraft were trying to reach the tower around 2:30am on November 19th. Neither pilot was able to reach the tower and so they contacted airport operations. They too were unable to communicate with any controllers via phone or emergency devices.  That’s when they called the state police. Police offers responded and flashed a spotlight at the tower, turned on their red and blue lights, and blared their sirens and horns, there was still no response. Eventually, a controller arrived in the parking lot and claimed to have spoken to the other controller just minutes earlier. The state police didn’t believe the story and had the man escort them into the tower.

“The man seemed to not be concerned and even stopped at the break/lunch room to grab some pizza and a drink before going with the officers up to the main radio area. The man kept saying it was no problem and everything was OK, and this wasn’t a big deal.”

On the way to the tower by an elevator, the officers and Gard reported smelling marijuana coming from the controller. In his report, police described the man’s demeanor as “slow and confused as to what was going on.”

More fun once they reached the tower…

“The individual in the tower seemed very groggy and sluggish, what I would describe as dazed and confused. He responded by saying he hadn’t heard any radios or phones. He didn’t respond for a moment, and I asked him again. He then told me he fell asleep.”

The FAA has opened up an investigation, but no charges were filed by state police when they could not find any signs of marijuana. The controllers shared the middle of the night shift.


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Alex December 10, 2016 - 4:08 pm

So which airport is it? You mentioned two airports, but described only one location with ATCs.

Alex December 10, 2016 - 4:13 pm

Never mind, I read the Miami Herald via the link you provided. May I suggest that you change the wording so it doesn’t sound like two airports? Miami Herald had it right by saying the tower handles both airports. And i think a novice such as myself would assume that one tower is responsible for one airport, which isn’t the case here.


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