QUEENS, NEW YORK – In a rather peculiar display of total disregard for authority, a commercial pilot decided to turn his radio off in order to avoid a re-route from air traffic controllers last Thursday in the busy skies south of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The aircraft, a Gulfstream 5 (like the one pictured above) went without radio (or “NORDO”) for over 12 minutes, before air traffic controllers were able to get in touch with the pilot again.
In the incredibly tense moments the plane was out of contact with controllers, the pilot rebelliously decided to fly direct to a location that was originally intended to be removed from his flight plan.
“It was bad. I mean, it was close, he never should have been on this route. But typically we can re-reoute them in time. But this time, the pilot was on his own. An Aerolíneas Argentinas flight reported the G5 plane was probably only about a mile away from him. I think, anyway. His accent was pretty tough,” air traffic controller Bob Lukather told us from his quiet Westchester home, visibly shaken by the ordeal, as he sipped his large coffee and Fireball cocktail at 8am.
The controllers weren’t the only people upset by the ordeal. Supervisor Ryan Reiss, who was in charge that night, reported that the incident was unlike anything they had ever experienced in the area that handled the aircraft with no radio contact. “Wait, we had a NORDO aircraft?” he asked, clearly upset at the events that had unfolded so intensely in the busiest sectors of airspace he managed.
We contacted the company of the G5 aircraft that had decided to put the many lives in danger for the expediency of their flight that evening, but the voicemail played an uncensored version of ‘Blow The Whistle’ and then proceeded to inform us that the voicemail-box was full.
Upon landing at JFK airport, the pilots of the G5 were instructed to call the tower, but they have yet to do so.
“Really, these guys should be held responsible,” said an air traffic controller, who asked to go unnamed for the sake of his well being. “You know, it’s one thing if a JetBlue or something goes NORDO; but a G5? Totally unacceptable. It is not what we train for.”
We will update this story as more information is available.
In an rather ominously related story, Southwest Airlines is apparently planning on running an advertising campaign simply entitled ‘we talk to air traffic control’.