Posted on December 8, 2023

DIE in the Air

Steve Sailer, Taki's Magazine, December 6, 2023

As I may have mentioned now and then, there’s much wrong about the 2020s, but it’s also worth mentioning something right: We’re living in the golden age of airliner safety. The last fatal crash of a commercial flight of an American airline was way back in 2009. (That year could have been worse: In 2009, Captain Sully Sullenberger adroitly ditched his disabled Airbus in the Hudson River, saving all 155 lives.)


Similarly, back in 1989, Congress had the Federal Aviation Administration develop with three dozen colleges the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative. This provided education for non-engineers in what you need to know to be an air traffic controller.

But you then still had to pass the FAA’s hiring test, the Air Traffic Control Selection and Training aptitude exam, which probed for “numeric ability, prioritization, planning, tolerance for high intensity, decisiveness, visuality, problem-solving, and movement detection,” all good things in an air traffic controller.

If you then graduated from your trainee trial period, you could be working in a well-compensated career by your mid-20s—all by being competent, responsible, and dedicated, but not needing to be a 125-IQ engineering whiz.

Not surprisingly, America’s biggest demons, straight white men, are those most likely to love aviation so much that they make these sacrifices to attain their dream job of airline pilot. Similarly, those damn white men flocked to air traffic control programs at colleges.

So, as I predicted in 2008, after a moderate first term helped Barack Obama get reelected in 2012, in 2013 Obama let loose his people to pursue their agenda of Diversity-Inclusion-Equity (DIE).

White House officials decided in 2013 to purge the hiring list of over 1,000 graduates of the air traffic control course at colleges like Arizona State who had also passed the cognitive exam for hiring. Instead, it made air traffic control job-seekers start over with a new “biographical” test to “add diversity to the workforce.”

This was in response to complaints from the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees that only 9.47 percent of FAA workers were black compared with 17.6 percent in the federal civilian workforce. “Thus, the FAA would be required to increase their complement of African American workers by 8.13 percent to reach parody [sic] with the Federal Civilian Workforce.”


The Obama administration’s new biographical test was blatantly rigged to boost blacks and hurt whites by leaning in to anti-black stereotypes. From the lawsuit against the FAA filed by the Mountain States Legal Foundation:

…a candidate could be awarded 15 points, the highest possible for any question, if they indicated that their lowest grades in high school were in science…. In contrast, an applicant was awarded only 2 points if they had a pilot’s certificate and no points were awarded for having a Control Tower Operator rating or having Instrument Flight Rules experience…. In addition, one question on the Biographical Questionnaire awarded an applicant 10 points, the most available for that question, if the applicant answered s/he had not been employed in the prior three years. Another question awarded 4 or 8 points if the applicant had been unemployed five or more months in the prior three years. Statistics from the Department of Labor indicate that African Americans had the highest unemployment rate in 2010–2014.

Even the federal organization that made up this absurd biographical test reported to the FAA that it hadn’t been validated.

So far, no airliner passengers have died from air traffic control DIE. But The New York Times has been running a long series of hair-rising articles about recent near misses due to bad air traffic control, such as:

How a Series of Air Traffic Control Lapses Nearly Killed 131 People

Two planes were moments from colliding in Texas, a harrowing example of the country’s fraying air safety system, a New York Times investigation found.

Why? There’s a shortage of air traffic controllers who make it through training, so the ones who do are overworked. The Times reports:

Yet training is difficult; many aspiring controllers fail…. From 2011 to 2022, the number of fully certified controllers declined more than 9 percent, even though traffic increased. Based on targets set by the F.A.A. and the union representing controllers, 99 percent of the nation’s air traffic control sites are understaffed.

A lot of industries were getting by before Covid by keeping competent baby boomers employed into their dotage. But air traffic controllers have a mandatory retirement age of 56, so the oldest controllers are now Gen-Xers born in 1967. The coming Competence Crisis is on track to hit air traffic control earlier than many other professions.

But of course there’s no mention in the Times of how the Obama administration sabotaged the old test for selecting the most promising candidates for training in order to hire more blacks. That’s just too off-narrative for Times subscribers. They don’t pay good money to have their worldview about who are the Good Guys and who are the Bad Guys in any and all situations undermined.


Is Diversity truly a booster of disruptive innovation and faster development cycles? Wouldn’t it seem more likely that diversity qua diversity gums up the works with employees needing to waste time on DIE training and DIE dispute arbitration? Isn’t diversity basically a cover story for hiring politically privileged incompetents?