Sequestration

Sequestration Scare-Story Implosion, in Three Acts

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Only this time, NO LLOYD BRIDGES. |||

Act 1: In which National Public Radio host Steve Inskeep warns us that we're about to listen to some scary real-world effects of the sequester:

OK. It's been a month since automatic spending cuts went into effect. Many Americans have not yet felt the impact, but that's soon going to change. And people who fly out of small, regional airports could be among the first to notice.

Act 2: NPR's David Greene brings on Yvette Aehle, director of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany, Georgia, to talk about the terrible danger that passengers will face now that Aehle's airport stands to lose its air traffic controllers:

Ok, maybe just a LEETLE Lloyd Bridges! |||

GREENE: So is this unheard of, operating an airport with no one in the tower?

AEHLE: Well, it's not unheard of. I mean, there's lots of airports around America that do not have an air traffic control tower. However, we've always had one. And to go back to being an uncontrolled airport is not something that we're used to doing and don't want to do.

GREENE: What does mean, an uncontrolled airport? I mean, where are their pilots, kind of who are they talking to when they're getting directions and so forth?

AEHLE: We have a common traffic frequency that they will all switch to, and they will all talk to each other. Pilots know there's a typical pattern, and they know how to fly in and land on our runways. But it's going to be a see-and-be-seen. And the closest metaphor that I can explain to people is it's like having a stoplight, and then going to a flashing red light.

Act: 3: Under the heat of extremely friendly and credulous questioning, it is revealed that, well, ah, you see … most planes at this airport already land without benefit of a controller:

Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, post-sequester. |||

GREENE: I hear you using words like mistake and more of a chance for error. I mean, it sounds like it is less safe to fly in and out of your airport if things are working out this way.

AEHLE: Well, I don't really want to say anything is less safe. It's just a better opportunity for people to listen and to be heard and to understand where they are. And also, I'd like to point out that we don't have 24-hour tower coverage here currently. Those air traffic controllers are only directing traffic between 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week. And most of our heavy traffic is outside of those hours.

GREENE: Well, this sounds like a very important point. Most of your traffic already is flying in and out of your airport without any air traffic controllers at your airport.

AEHLE: Yes. Yes. Yes.

GREENE: So this is not a stunning change for you.

AEHLE: No. It's not a stunning change, but that's not something that we'd like.

There you have it. The sequester makes Yvette Aehle uncomfortable. And she doesn't like that.

Reason on sequestration here. Thanks to Scott Ross for the tip.

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  1. We have Lloyd Bridges, but no Leslie Nielson?

    1. I am Serious, and don’t call me Shirley.

      1. Looks like I picked a bad week to quit sniffing glue.

  2. Assuming it was recorded, I’ll at least give them some credit for airing the thing notwithstanding its failure to advance the narrative.

    A better NPR sequestration story was last week, when they talked to a US Park Service ranger about the effects of sequestration on the Civil War site (IIRC) he administers. He disclosed that sequestration cuts will mean the grass at the historic cemetery won’t be mown as often, and that will have an effect on morale. (I am not kidding you.)

    1. He’s right to be concerned. If you cut the federal budget far enough, the Civil War will never have happened in the first place.

    2. That’s actually rather poetic:

      PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
      Shovel them under and let me work?
      I am the grass; I cover all.

      And pile them high at Gettysburg
      And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun. 5
      Shovel them under and let me work.
      Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
      What place is this?
      Where are we now?

      I am the grass. 10
      Let me work.

      –Carl Sandburd

      1. Sandburg*

      2. I like “Sandburd” better.

        1. I like the line numbers best.

  3. ….will mean the grass at the historic cemetery won’t be mown as often, and that will have an effect on morale. (I am not kidding you.)

    It improves my morale when I don’t have to mow!

  4. Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, “Dey turk r jerbs!

    1. More to the point, I had a friend who worked air traffic control at the Aberdeen, SD airport in the 80’s. On average, he guided just one plane an hour.

      1. I don’t care about your friends in the Witness Protection Program.

      2. No shit…I grew up near Aberdeen, SD in the 80s.

        1. No way! Aberdeen rules!!!

        2. what was the name of your horse?

      3. And he struck because that was too much work!

  5. big government is theologically ingrained in most secular minds, ‘it’ makes me feel comfortable.

  6. You know… I’m really starting to like this “sequestration” thing.

    Second helping maybe?

  7. That was beautiful.

  8. There’s a similar article on the front page of the CNN website right now:

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/01/…..hpt=hp_bn3

    It may be the sign of the apocalypse when H&R and CNN converge. I will not sleep well tonight.

    1. Looks like you picked the wrong week to keep up on the news.

  9. Wait, why can’t the city just hire its own ATC?

    1. whatchu talkin’ ’bout Willis?

    2. Because the FAA, that is why.

      I was part of an air traffic control squadron when I was in the service and a couple of my buddies got in big trouble because they were working on a comm link between the beacon and the tower. They didn’t realize that because of the way the were doing their test, their various comments (and farts) were being broadcast on an auxillary weather info channel.

      The FAA was threatening them with prosecution for being a couple dumbasses. I don’t know how far up the brass it went before they finally talked the FAA into not pressing charges.

      1. I know that – I was just (subtley) pointing out the benefits of a private ATC network over a federalized one.

        In a private network they would have had to decide from the get-go whether or not an ATC was worth the cost – in the federal one they don’t get much of a choice, the FAA gets to decide if and how many they get.

        1. Sorry, my knee jerked in front of my eyes so quickly I missed the subtlety.

          The FAA was the first fed agency I ran across that was such a bunch of bastards that I still can’t think rationally about them

    3. That’s what the airport is trying to get the city to do, according to the person interviewed.

      1. No, the city is trying to get the feds to send them another ATC on the federal dime.

        1. Actually, if you click through, they mention that they’re trying to get the city to use its own money, though they’re not happy about it.

          So that’s why we’re going to the city to ask them to come up with the money. But that’s not what the city’s duty is to do. The FAA’s duty is to separate traffic, and we just feel that the FAA is not completing their core mission.

  10. And the closest metaphor that I can explain to people is it’s like having a stoplight, and then going to a flashing red light.

    The horror! The horror!

    Someone really needs to tell this woman that she needs a metaphor people don’t understand anywhere near as well as this one.

    1. Especially since there’s research that shows that flashing red lights have better safety records than stoplights.

      1. Look, what the airports really need is their own version of the roundabout! Roundabouts are the bestest, and if we can just get those at airports, no more accidents!

        1. They have one — airports use a standard traffic pattern similar to a roundabout.

          http://www.google.com/imgres?i…..AA&dur=920

    2. I was using the same metaphor earlier with some of my big govt acquaintences. They were getting the vapors about this and I told them that 99% of air traffic control is done by pilots who know how the pattern works and have done it umpteen times already.

      I guess without the FAA you might get some young agressive guy with Runway Rage who would start cutting people off and shit, but pilots have more to lose than any ATC drone in the tower and are the ones who usually make the best choices.

    3. Well flashing red lights *do* slow traffic down – which I imagine might be an important cosideratoin at a large airport and not one in the middle of nowhere Georgia.

      1. Hey! Albany is in the southwest corner of Georgia! Nowhere near the middle!

  11. Because flashing red lights mean instant traffic deaths.

    1. Well, technically a flashing red light at an airport means “Airport Unsafe; Do Not Land.”

  12. That last section of quotes is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

    GREENE: Well, this sounds like a very important point. Most of your traffic already is flying in and out of your airport without any air traffic controllers at your airport.

    AEHLE: Yes. Yes. Yes.

    GREENE: So this is not a stunning change for you.

    AEHLE: No. It’s not a stunning change, but that’s not something that we’d like.

    That is just some unbelievable shit right there.

  13. Did all these airports have ATCs back in oh, say, 2006 when the budget was much smaller than the sequestered budget of today?
    If so, why can’t the FAA eliminate the stuff that has been bolted on since 2006?

  14. I never thought about it liek that before. Wow.

    http://www.DatAnon.tk

  15. “What if government shut down, and nobody noticed?”

    1. That would be one hell of a good sign.

  16. I was talking to a guy down in TN last week and when I mentioned that I live in MD, he asked me how the economy is doing up here.

    I told him pretty good in this region, but only because the economy is artificially propped up by all the government or government related jobs.

    He then asked me quite seriously if the sequester wasn’t having a major effect on that. I must have looked stupid for a few minutes because I didn’t answer him, I just sort of stared in disbelief that he was asking that question. Then I asked him, are you serious? I don’t think he had any idea how to take that and we got interrupted and that was pretty much the end of it.

    I’m just amazed that anyone can really think that it’s a serious issue. The sheeples are even more na?ve than what I had imagined possible.

  17. Julie Hagerty in Airplane!: So. Hot.

  18. Oh stewardess, I speak Jive.

  19. A Roundabout is more like it.

    There are many many uncontrolled airports in the U.S. and they seem to do just fine.

  20. And also, I’d like to point out that we don’t have 24-hour tower coverage here currently. Those air traffic controllers are only directing traffic between 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week. And most of our heavy traffic is outside of those hours.

    wtf? You have controllers for the 12 hours that you are least busy?

    1. Look for the union label.

    2. Yeah, that one stood out to me as well. I’m sure there is some sort of method to the madness hidden in there. Maybe they would have to pay people more to work overnight, but the resulting budget impact would force them to reduce headcount or overall hours worked annually. Basically, some metric not really connected to optimizing actual customer service.

  21. There you have it. The sequester makes Yvette Aehle uncomfortable.

    As far as I’ve been able to determine, the fact that a woman is uncomfortable is more than enough reason to spend millions of dollars and enact poorly thought-out legislation. Where’ve you been the last 2 decades?

  22. Wasn’t there an inside joke in “Airplane” where Howard Jarvis gets in a taxi at the beginning of film and is still waiting to leave after the credits?

    I don’t get the joke, but it’s true sequestration should end. Let’s get the economy moving again.

  23. I listened to this interview in the car yesterday afternoon. By the end of it, I tried, really hard, to determine if maybe I missed something – could there possibly be more to this borish conversation other than someone asking for more money because “we don’t like it”? Alas, my efforts were in vain.

  24. I love this: “Those air traffic controllers are only directing traffic between 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week. And most of our heavy traffic is outside of those hours.”

    Why don’t they shift their resources to the hours when “most of our heavy traffic” does arrive?

    Never mind.

  25. GO BACK!!! SAVE YOURSELVES!!! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

    Oh. We’re not?

    You mean there’s really nothing to worry about?

    Damn, how am I supposed to justify MY taxpayer-subsidized salary?

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