Lexington Controller Under Wraps


As a flood of details about the crash of Comair Flight 5191 two weeks ago in Lexington come to light, there is one glaring omission and it’s likely to stay that way. So far, the FAA, NTSB and National Air Traffic Controllers Association have been able to keep the identity of the lone air traffic controller on duty at the time of the crash a secret, on the record, at least. Although it seems unlikely that the secret has been kept perfectly, so far as we can tell the controller’s name hasn’t been made public and it likely won’t be until he testifies at public hearings into the disaster. “It’s the foxhole mentality,” Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told Forbes. “These are brothers in arms. They have each other’s backs.” The FAA and NATCA have gone so far as to refuse to even release the full list of names of the 19 controllers who work in Lexington and the controller himself has reportedly been told that if he so much as utters a peep to the media, he’ll be fired and lose his imminent pension. Management of the identity of the flight crew has been different. The mundane details of the pretty ordinary lives of the deceased captain of the flight and the recovery of the accident’s sole survivor, First Officer James Polehinke, are public fodder. Antonio Cruz, the boyfriend of Polehinke’s mother, is apparently giving detailed updates on the 44-year-old pilot’s condition. Polehinke suffered facial fractures, a broken breastbone, ribs, left hand, ankle, spine and pelvis, and a collapsed lung.