Yikes: Pilots forced to blindly land at National Airport and other district news

Hi beloved reader(s). My apologies for abandoning you. As some know, I am currently in law school and stupidly signed up for “moot court,” a sublimely nerdy competition which consists of reading a 150 page case packet, writing a brief and arguing before a panel of your overly critical peers for nothing save marginal satisfaction and your name on some engraved cup. I am now officially eliminated. My Achilles Heel? Making “eye contact with my eyes and not my body.” What? Exactly. Time to file that in the “regret I put in the effort” bin.

My life in an image

However, now that this foray into law school overachieving has imploded, I can get back to the light of my life – DC news. And I can’t think of a more appropriate and terrifying place to start than airplane miscommunication.

According to the Washington Post, in stupendous DC fashion, two pilots were forced to land blindly at National Airport at midnight yesterday because they contacted the control tower and nobody answered. They called, other controllers in other places called, they used the “shout line,” which is loudspeaker in the tower – radio silence. Through talking to one another and nearby controllers, and a bit of luck, the two pilots safely landed minutes from each other and hit nobody on the runway.

Image that entered everyone's mind

So how did this happen you ask? How did two planes carrying 165 people simply call the control tower and have nobody answer? Well, the FAA won’t say exactly, but this is what the nearby TRACON controller wagered:

Well, I’m going to take a guess, and say that the controller got locked out. I’ve heard of it happening before

Locked out?!?!?! Yes. This is because the Washington National control tower from midnight to 6am is staffed by ONE GUY. And apparently a year ago pilots had to land blindly another time because the guy left his key card in the control room before leaving and found he couldn’t get back in. The FAA in their infinite wisdom has now suggested that more than one person would be better.

Maybe National could stand an upgrade?

If this terrifies you from flying out of DC because you will eventually have to fly back in (understandable), here are some other district headlines:

  • Overly obvious study says that Burleith neighborhood hates Georgetown students. And they’ve got numbers. Of the 500 homes in the region, 100 they say have the potential to be ANIMAL HOUSES. Toga! (City Paper)
  • D.C. suing Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline et al.  for charging customers full hotel taxes rates, while paying D.C. discounted rates. Priceline negotiator! (Examiner)
  • Leo DiCaprio shooting Clint Eastwood Hoover flick in downtown DC this weekend. Catch him if you can! (see what I did there? With the movies? Wit.) (WaPo)
  • Oh yeah, and there is the Cherry Blossom Festival. That also exists this weekend
  • Spring has sprung and the farmers markets are reopening. Add Penn Quarter to the open list (WeLove DC)

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