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Welcome to Con Air

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Ever wonder how prisoners are moved around the country? Such transfers require careful leadership and coordination of about 15,000 prisoners a month through 40 cities, on a fleet known as “Con Air,” under the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System.

Managers and air traffic controllers re­­view real-time maps of operations. U.S. marshals process paperwork while as many as 15 guards extensively search prisoners and man a plane of passengers shackled the entire time, hand and foot, with chains through eye-bolts from seat to seat.

Because firearms are a bad idea in pressurized cabins, guards carry stun guns. Snipers on nearby buildings oversee loading and unloading.

The marshals spell each other every quarter hour, watching prisoners throughout the plane, including lavatories.

They provide the worst in-flight service in the world and the best security.

— Adapted from “How It’s Done,” Wired, and “Flying Con Air,” Ron Laytner, Edit International.

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