Matt Lauer is known for keeping his cool during heated interviews, but he really got put to the test recently while “interning” at one the most pressure-packed offices in the world.
As part of TODAY’s “Up for the Job” series, Matt needed to tap into his ability to multi-task for the day he spent as an air traffic controller at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
More than 1,000 flights come through every day at JFK airport, where 90 airlines move 150,000 passengers in and out of New York City skies.
Air traffic controllers must posses intense focus skills, since they could easily be speaking with 10 pilots at a time — and as many as several dozen when the weather is poor.
They must also have nerves of steel since one small mistake could cost lives. That’s part of the reason why air traffic controllers never go for long before taking a break.
“We never want to have have them working more than two hours at one time without a break,” said Dave Siewert, JFK’s air traffic manager.
Matt was trained on the air traffic control tower simulator, where he quickly understood the job’s intensity as he practiced clearing planes for take off and landings. He also learned to “shoot the gap,” which means guiding two planes in and one out of the same runway.
And somehow, he managed to leave the simulator without causing any major accidents.
“It was really cool,” Matt said of his experience. “That’s one of those jobs where you only hear about those people when something goes wrong. But on a daily basis, they do that job so well, day in and day out.”