“It’s not my first day in New York. It’s not my first day in an aircraft. I did what I had to do. GOOD DAY.” So concluded a tiff between an Aer Lingus pilot caught in a jam and the New York City air traffic controller scolding him for said jam. It’s pretty hilarious.
A great tragedy in New York is that the traditional “New York accent” is almost dead. But it still exists in two small corners of the region – the godless Long Island Rail Road, and the city’s blessed air traffic controllers (ATCs). Which is why it’s extra great to listen to one of the ATCs scold the Aer Lingus pilot, referred to here as “Shamrock 104 Heavy,” for getting themselves into a big mess.
There’s a lot of pilot-speak in this one, so if you haven’t watched it yet, I’ll help set it up a bit. Usually, to get from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport to Ireland, you zoom off the runway headed south and then immediately swing a left, because that’s where Ireland is.
So, the Aer Lingus A330 takes off, immediately sees a bit of weather out the left side, and doesn’t want to fly through it. The New York ATC essentially calls the Aer Lingus pilot a wuss, saying that “it’s light. I have six categories of weather here – that is the lightest category.” Just fly on through it, you’ll be fine, essentially. Everyone else was already flying through it.
But a pilot’s number one priority is the safety of everyone on board, and if the pilot says it is UNSAFE to fly through some rain, then godammit, it is VERY UNSAFE. So he wasn’t going to fly through some rain for NOTHING.
Faced with the dilemma of a plane that refused to go left, but couldn’t really go anywhere else, the ATC immediately just put the Aer Lingus plane in a holding pattern. Holding patterns when you’re landing at JFK are pretty much the standard, but when you’re taking off? Very odd. But since the plane couldn’t really go anywhere else thanks to the weather and the other airports and the other planes, it was stuck doing circles over Coney Island.
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