Air traffic controller arrested after being found drunk on the job

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Philip Maschek, 50, showed signs of intoxication when police found him "passed out in his chair with his shirt off" inside the Springdale Municipal Airport in Arkansas Thursday, July 16, 2015.
Philip Maschek, 50, showed signs of intoxication when police found him “passed out in his chair with his shirt off” inside the Springdale Municipal Airport in Arkansas Thursday, July 16, 2015.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Among the attributes you want in the person guiding the plane you’re aboard, sobriety has to rank pretty highly.

But one air traffic controller in Arkansas failed miserably to meet that criteria last week, according to police.

Awareness dawned that something was amiss Thursday at Springdale Municipal Airport in Arkansas when a pilot received no response from the tower to repeated requests for clearance to taxi.

An employee sent to check on the air traffic controller on duty found him “passed out in his chair with his shirt off,” according to a police report.

When police officers arrived at the scene the controller, Philip Maschek, was squatting in front of a small refrigerator, swaying back and forth as he drank from a water bottle.

The officers determined that Maschek, 50, was showing signs of intoxication. He denied he was drunk but refused to take a breathalyzer test, according to police.

The officers arrested him on a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the contractor for which Maschek was working have also begun an investigation into what happened, said Lynn Lunsford, an FAA official.

Maschek resigned over the weekend and won’t return to work, Lunsford said Monday.

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