The FAA has offered an unprecedented $100,000 bonus to air-traffic controllers throughout the country to lure them to the New York area's five understaffed radar centers - and has even begun trolling local high schools to recruit for the jobs.
The FAA began its recruitment efforts in high schools and through online ads on MySpace and Craigslist because of a severe staffing shortage and lack of experience among workers at its air-control towers.
One recent hire is a 20-year-old who is now reading the scopes for the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) center in Westbury, LI, officials said.
By 2011, 59 percent of all controllers will have less than five years on the job.
The recently hired 20-year-old man has a bachelor's degree in air-traffic control, but other new hires can come straight out of 12th grade. They go through three months of training before becoming "controllers in training" and eventually full-fledged staffers.