Air traffic controllers have been getting some bad press in recent weeks. This has not gone unnoticed by the owner of an aviation-focused coffee company called “Flying High Coffee.” Rob Riggen felt he could play a small part in keeping controllers alert during their long days and late nights by offering up some free coffee.
“The moment I heard the third report of a controller sleeping on the job I literally pulled off the road and tweeted an offer of free coffee for controllers,” says Riggen. Arriving at his office, he set up a quick page on his website to collect the shipping address of interested controllers. The response was immediate. Requests for coffee poured in from all across the US including Cleveland, Oakland, Chicago, Fresno, Chattanooga, JFK, Tulsa and Memphis, to name a few.
“There were a couple of requests within the first hour. By the evening they were coming in at a rate of about two per hour,” noted Riggen. His web page mentions that the offer is good, “while supplies last.” When asked how many supplies he had, Riggen, a CFI, says he’ll do his best to fill every request. “We had some dollars allocated to marketing and honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend them. I have benefited from ATC services for years and it feels good to do something to show my appreciation.”
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. One controller offered (with tongue in cheek), “Thanks!!! I won’t sleep on my mid this week!”
Riggen realizes that his coffee isn’t going to solve the problems ATC is facing but notes that brewing, pouring and drinking a cup of coffee is a task that can keep someone engaged and alert during periods of boredom or under-stimulation. He notes that the smell of just-ground coffee can be invigorating. One has to believe that the caffeine doesn’t hurt, either. “I think these hard-working men and women need a schedule that allows time for adequate rest. Also, they surely should be drinking the freshest and best coffee available.”
Following on the success of this effort, Riggen has opened up the program to allow other companies, organizations or individuals to donate. By signing up on the website others can make a pledge. Money collected will be used to send coffee to registered air traffic control facilities with a note of support and thanks. Riggen’s idea is to promote some goodwill between the ones who benefit from ATC services and the controllers who provide it.
Flying High Coffee, founded in 200,8 has a mission of giving profits back to aviation. The company offers freshly-roasted, top-grade Arabica coffee beans sourced from the world’s best coffee growing regions. A significant portion of the company’s profit is channeled to scholarships and programs that introduce new people to aviation and support youth exploring aviation as a career.
Fresh coffee is available by-the-pound at FlyingHighCoffee.com