MWAA, the fuel tank and the cat named Reagan

October 16, 2013
Reagan the cat has a new home thanks to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Photo courtesy of MWAA.
Reagan the cat has a new home thanks to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. (MWAA)

Public board meetings don’t always make the most scintillating copy, but every once in a while a gem of a story pops up, as it did Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s board of directors.

Think heartwarming (yes, heartwarming) and furry.

I make my living as a writer, but this is a case when I don’t believe I could tell it better than MWAA CEO Jack Potter did to the board of directors as part of his monthly report.

So here goes:

I’d like to end with one additional story of a more unusual type of service.

When the phone rings in our maintenance shops during Shift 3, you never know what to expect.

Recently, one of those late-night phone calls came in at Reagan.

MWAA Police received a call from a couple who had driven to DCA from Baltimore and reported “panicked” meows coming from their car.

The couple feared that their family’s cat had somehow gotten trapped inside the car.

While we were pleased that folks from Baltimore were using Reagan Airport, we were also concerned about the safety of their pet. So we brought their car to Reagan’s shop and lo and behold our mechanics saw a cat’s tail sticking out of the undercarriage next to the fuel tank.

The cat wouldn’t budge and there didn’t seem to be any way to get him out.

Then, Shop Supervisor Fred Gregory remembered that some cars have a way to access the fuel-tank area from behind the back seat.  Heavy Equipment Mechanic Louis Buttice did some quick research … and confirmed that this particular car did, in fact, have the access.

So the crew unbolted the back seat, tilted it up and opened the access panel.

And there was the cat.

(Are you with me here, dear reader? Because it’s going to get better)

Carefully, Louis and MWAA Police Lt. Marta Garcia pulled the little cat to safety and Heavy Equipment Mechanic Flip Hicks got it some much-needed water and food.

It was at this point the couple realized it was not their cat – but a kitten they had never seen before.

The couple left to catch their flight and the cat was sent to a shelter.

And our shop crew had another story to tell about amazing things that happen at the airport.

But there’s more, Mr. Chairman.

(Yes, indeed, there IS more)

A few days later, the couple sent us an e-mail that said: “We want to thank you for all the help you and your staff provided us in extracting the kitten from our car the other night.  We appreciate your professionalism and goodwill.  We intend to adopt the kitten in the next few weeks and are naming her Reagan.”

And we can confirm that Reagan officially been adopted.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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Lori Aratani · October 16, 2013