(PALMDALE, CALIFORNIA) – As countless workers donned in bright yellow hazardous material protection suits entered the Los Angeles Air Traffic Control Enroute Facility in Palmdale this morning, there was at first, much speculation as to what could have been going on.
What was originally thought to be a gas leak was quickly determined to be a hazardous situation involving the actual working conditions within the facility.
“Supposedly, one of the air traffic controllers in there turned on the overhead lights after losing his cell phone while on position this morning,” said David Goshman, Battalion Chief, Los Angeles Fire Department Station 37.
Screams of horror and chaos quickly spread from one end of the building to the other as workers on the control floor, many of whom were air traffic controllers working actual airplanes, glanced at the floor and saw the situation.
“My sector of airspace I was in charge of was quite busy, and I remember the lights going on. It was difficult to see my radar scope, but then I noticed the carpet. At first, I thought it was a weak attempt at avant-garde modern art, but then I realized it was actually stains I was seeing,” said one air traffic controller that was on duty.
Numerous aircraft had to be sent to alternative airports, as nearly all airspace in the Southern California area was shut down almost immediately following the situation.
“I was at first thinking, this wouldn’t be a huge deal,” said facility manager Mark Alaskey. “But as soon as I got down there to the floor and saw that one of the controllers had, at some point in the past, actually consumed a box of Milk Duds, I knew I had to make a decision. The union leadership and I both immediately made the unanimous decision to go ATC zero. I mean, the box was just lying there, empty. Who the fuck eats Milk Duds?”
‘ATC zero’ is a term in the aviation industry referring to the complete and total shutdown of an air traffic control facility. Typically, no airplanes are allowed to fly through the airspace (or airport) serviced by such a facility during ATC zero events.
“I saw it all,” said one supervisor. “Billy [a controller] comes up to me and says, supe you better check this out, I think there is half a pizza lodged under sector 36,” he said. “At the same time, I heard area B say something about used condoms. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced in my past 20 years here at this facility, and I remember the white book.”
While radar rooms are often kept very dark in the United States, rarely are the lights turned on, revealing the true conditions of the rooms.
“Currently right now, our Geiger counter is showing about 13,000 CPM,” said firefighter Robby Ellis, as the device emitted a high pitch and wailing alarm. “That’s real high, man. Like, this place makes Chernobyl look like a joke. We still have no idea how high levels of Polonium ended up on some of this carpet. Personally, I blame the cafeteria.”
In other areas of the building, even more confusion was evident.
“I found my Gucci belt I haven’t seen since 1994,” said one of the controllers who has worked at the end of the building since 1986. “My wife is going to be so happy; I haven’t worn anything valued over $5 since I started working here.” There was no word as to why his belt ended up on the floor in the first place.
With the light illuminating desks and shelves, some employees found closure from the events of years past, as one employee from the weather office found out. “I had this pet hamster named Teecass who I had in here, and I think I had lost him back in 2003 or so. I just assumed he had ran away from this place, or tried to transfer to some VFR tower in Wyoming. Well anyway, we can finally put Teecass to rest today, as his body was discovered between a strip printer from 1971 and the stack of 7110.65s, edition A, in area D.”
The temporary closing of the Los Angeles Center has caused significant disruption to air traffic around the southwestern United States, but operations should resume back to normal by the end of the day.
“At this point, [we] just have to do a few more sweeps and then bring in some air purifiers for a few hours,” said David Goshman. “I’m currently coordinating how we’re going to remove the 9-foot grand piano someone, somehow, got to the end of the isle in area C, But once we take that wall down, it should be easy to push it out the side,” he said.
Our film crews entered the building, but quickly decided to turn around and wait out the event, after one of the crew members from the audio team stepped in a large bag of used headset ear-inserts, and one employee from the camera crew became ill after eating a potato from a plant that was supposedly growing from out of the floor.
This is a developing story.