(ALBANY, NEW YORK) – Amidst a historic government shutdown in which thousands of “essential” federal employees are currently working without pay, one agency decided to step in and experiment. The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Tuesday that their first experiment; a first control tower facility converted into a full-scale, Vegas style casino, was a wild success.
“Basically, we had people here complaining that they weren’t being paid. I mean, on one hand, I sort of get it,” said facility manager David Lozano. “But with these new implementations, I’m happy to report, morale has improved dramatically.”
We talked to some of the controllers on duty.
“This is really something else,” said Brian Sheppard, a controller working aircraft taking off and landing. “This morning, I had like 45 planes in a push, and I thought to myself, wow, I am actually broke right now. But I also had a four-of-a-kind over on that thing,” he said, pointing to the video poker screen.
“I was down the shitter, but man, I felt on top of the world.”
“This is simply the best thing the FAA has done since getting rid of ‘position and hold’,” said the supervisor on position. “Plus, these guys fit in well to this culture. Most of them are [expletive] with their money.”
The interview was momentarily interrupted while a fist-fight had to be subdued by using a billiard cue.
Granted, while these controllers are enjoying their time at work, many admit it doesn’t really solve the fundamental problem: they still need to be paid.
“Yeah, look, my checking account is in the negative 5 digits. I have a student loan from Embry-Riddle, and I decided to buy a brand new Lexus to celebrate certifying on flight data. I guess my best strategy at this point is to keep borrowing money from AA and trying to play that slot machine over there,” said one trainee. (AA is the initials that represent his trainer controller)
While largely experimental, the casino control tower is one of 30 that the federal government plants to implement within the next week.
“This is just the beginning,” Lozano said. “Just wait until you see Atlanta Center. Rumor is their installing a full-size horse racing track in the basement.”
We tried calling Atlanta Center, but nobody answered, as the phone bill was not paid.