Pilot Behind Rant Is From North Texas

Southwest CEO “deeply disappointed”

By Scott gordon
|  Friday, Jun 24, 2011  |  Updated 11:28 PM CDT
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Southwest Airline's CEO says he is

Scott Gordon, NBCDFW.com

Southwest Airline's CEO says he is "deeply disappointed" by the pilot's raunchy comments.

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Southwest Suspends Pilot After Radio Rant

Southwest Airlines Co. suspended a pilot whose disparaging comments about gays and older flight attendants were transmitted over an air-traffic control frequency.
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A Southwest Airlines pilot whose raunchy radioed rants made headlines worldwide ducked reporters on Friday at his home in Denton County.

The pilot apparently left his upscale home in Argyle when reporters showed up to try to interview him.

The pilot's identity is now common knowledge among Southwest employees. NBC DFW is not naming the pilot because he has not been charged with a crime.

He has apologized to air traffic controllers and co-workers but so far has said nothing publicly.

Meanwhile, Southwest's top executive said he is "deeply disappointed" by the pilot's comments, a cockpit conversation with a co-pilot that was mistakenly broadcast over an air traffic radio frequency when the pilot's microphone somehow became stuck.

"First and foremost, the comments and the on-duty behavior were wrong," CEO Gary Kelly said in a recorded telephone message for Southwest employees. "I am personally deeply disappointed that one of our employees would think -- much less say -- such things."

The recording was obtained by the Dallas Voice newspaper.

The pilot specifically complained about flight attendants, griping that the airline no longer hired "cute chicks."

"I thought I was in Chicago, which was party land," the pilot said. "After that, it was just a continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes."

NBC affiliate KPRC-TV in Houston obtained a recording of the broadcast this week from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot was suspended after the incident in March and ordered to attend diversity training. He's now back on the job.

In his message to employees, Kelly said he was not aware of the incident until this week.

"Senior management, including me, did not learn of any of this until the news got out on this story," he said. "I'm not happy with that, and I have asked for a review of our discipline procedures."

Despite calls for the pilot to be fired, Kelly said the punishment is already done and cannot be reconsidered.

"The matter was resolved already legally, and it would serve no purpose to reopen that now, even if we could," he said.


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