From Air Traffic Control

Time Keeps On Ticking

November 29th, 2015 17:02

Well an update on the scholarship situation is probably needed first to keep the flow of things. I was denied that internship a week or two ago. It appears my social skills weren’t enough to carry me through lack of simulator experience and having missed one of the interview questions.  However, given what my schedule looks like for next semester I cannot be to upset; I probably would have had to decline the offer anyways due to work and school. If I do this internship it will probably have to be during the summer.

With that out of the way I can bring us back up to speed to real time. I just spent the last 3 or so hours studying the bible (7110.65). Honestly, I should have started studying for the local control final the second we finished the ground mid-term. If you are an ASU CTI student I suggest you do the same; which I know is more difficult then it sounds. I can sit here and preach about being anti-procrastination all day long but I’ll probably still do it. Any ways, rules regarding SRS and Wake Turbulence are rather complex and annoying, and to top it off you need to know something like 40+ aircraft and their corresponding SRS and wake turbulence rankings. This is what I see presenting the largest threat to my final grade.

Unfortunately, thats not the only final I’ve got on my scope that presents a conflict. My instrument ground final (AMT 222) is promising to be a nasty situation too. The final consists of all the chapters (I don’t even want to know how large of a fucking question bank that makes) and its 100 questions. I’m going to be relying heavily upon recalling this semesters previous experience with this one; there is just to many questions to study for to try and study for the entire test out of the Gliem book. I’ll have to pick and choose what spot to hone in on and refine.

Again, I haven’t been writing enough; I’m getting lazy and I need to focus. A lot has been happening in my life and I will try to address it all when I have more time once the semesters over.

Internship Interview

November 9th, 2015 20:44

Today I had my FAA Sky Harbor Internship interview. It went pretty well, I answered most of the questions correctly; even though I should have gotten all of them. It was an eye opener how much less focused I am on school; which is unfortunate. However, me and the interviewer got along really well and I think he was impressed at my ability to go up to the controllers and hold a conversation with them; which hopefully demonstrated my passion for the job.

Apparently there are eight students interviewing for five spots, so we’ll see what happens. Even if I don’t get one of the five PHX spots I can ask to go to Scottsdale or Falcon Field. I’m just glad this kid seems like he is taking it seriously and isn’t treating it like a popularity contest. Which gives me hope since I’m not that far in the ATC classes at school.

I focused on talking to the TRACON and Tower TMU specialists. I took advantage to talk to them about how to form a career path that ends up in at the Command Center; which confirmed the plan I already have: work my way to a TMU position and bid like hell after a couple years.

Mentors

Having a controller mentor while you go through school is extremely important. For me, it has provided a vast amount of invaluable knowledge that I have used in school. Learning about control tower operations in a classroom, and actually being shown it first hand are two totally different things. Not only that, but having a mentor allows you to truly see what it is like being a controller. My mentor(s) don’t bullshit me when it comes to the nitty gritty side of being a controller.

So how do you go about getting one? Like the post before said: NETWORK! Mine stopped by in a class I had my first semester to talk about what a day in the life of a controller is like. Afterwards, I talked with her after class and got her information. Don’t be afraid to ask people for things, worse they can do is say no.

Here is a link with some more tips and information regarding mentors that I read a while back and liked.

Networking

May 18th, 2015

Networking is probably the most important thing you can do throughout your life, and heres why: Today I had an interview to become a recruiter for one of the largest aerospace engineering company in the country. How? Because I met a lady playing pool at a bar and mentioned what I’m going to school for and we exchanged business cards. Remember, it’s who you know not what you know.Always ask people what they do if you speak for longer than a couple minutes, and ask if they have a business card. Also, make yourself a student business card so you have one to give back, this will impress them.

Now this doesn’t really apply to being a controller unless you somehow network with someone in the hiring department within the FAA. However, networking with controllers is still SUPER important because you need a mentor. I think mentors will be my next post, since mine have proved to be pretty invaluable.

A Long Overdue Update

May 11th, 2015 21:20

It has been a little over a month since my last update, and a lot has happened since then. Since my last update I have: finished the semester with straight A’s, started dating an awesome girl, failed three potential and promising job opportunities, sent a letter to my congressmen to support H.R.1964 , and finally I failed my first Biographical Questionnaire which means I failed the recent ATC bid. Therefore, the past month has had quite a few ups and downs, but that is life. Life will knock you down again and again but you need to find the drive to pick yourself back up knowing damn well your ass will probably be hitting the dirt again. Expect a more detailed account of these events in the future.

Welcome Back Parties Over

After a ridiculous week and a half I no longer have anymore mid terms or tests to worry about, thank god. I’ve just completed my first official bid to become a controller, and hopefully its my last.

The BQ was just 150 questions asking the same questions over and over again with slightly different answers; it was mostly “which of these statements would your past employer say about you?” type of thing. Which to me, is still a little bogus but I am glad to see it wasn’t anything like the irrelevant questions people had to answer last year. The BQ’s won’t be graded until the bid closes, so I’ll have my fingers crossed until then.

TRACON Tour

Had a Sky Harbor and Pheonix TRACON tour the other day. I’m just now writing about it at 0756 in the morning several days later because I am absolutely swamped at the moment; I actually had to get up 30 minutes early today just to do this. Back to the point: TRACON and Tower tour. This was intact the first I have ever seen a real radar scope, and It was absolutely amazing. This is something I highly recommend doing if you find yourself some how possessing the opportunity.

Phoenix TRACON is basically a dark circular room with scopes all long the wall with people just sitting at them and murmuring into their headset. The energy in that room is just something to marvel over. It is quiet and clam, yet at the same time it is the most serious and hectic room in all of Arizona. Most people probably wouldn’t feel the same way I do about it, but it definitely felt like I place I’d like to call my second home. Definitely very motivating to be there and see it, and I really do hope that I could be a talented enough controller to one day make it there.

Sky Harbor Tower was very impressive as well. Standing at something like 400ft tall makes for some pretty outstanding views of the entire valley. We spent so long in the TRACON that by the time we got up there is was night time. Which actually, is something I recommend doing if you somehow can. An airport at night, at least to me, is much more interesting. All the run way and taxi lights are actually quite beautiful, not the mention the 360 degree view of endless miles of city lights.

Even though this event sent me drastically behind on my homework, it was totally worth it. Really hoping I can pull off having my internship there. I feel like my grades and my resume should put me ahead of most of the competition, but you never know. There is always going to be someone who is better then you. That is my free life lesson of the day for you. Now I have to get to my ATC class.

Carrolyn Bostick, Good Riddance

I received news a couple days ago that Carrolyn Bostick was forced to resign. Bostick was the front runner behind the FAA’s new insane/disturbing controller hiring processes. This is great news for someone like me, and makes the future look a little brighter. Obvious the next bid coming in  march isn’t going to change and I will be taking the biographical questionnaire when I apply. However, that leaves me with some hope that if I don’t get picked up in March (2015), I will be a prime candidate in 2016 when I graduate. Fingers crossed.

Introduction

January 8th, 2015

For the purposes of whatever “this” is, I will go by the name Ryza. For some reason I feel refrained from writing about myself and blatantly giving you my name. Therefore, I will be forth right and tell you that I will try and maintain some anonymity throughout this. Not that anyone with half a brain and some motivation this day and age couldn’t track me down.

I’m not exactly certain as to why I am doing this. I guess you could consider this a blog, or a diary. I have no intention of trying to whore this page out everywhere trying to gain a bunch of followers. To be truthful, I more intend to keep it a secret. The only person who I intend to tell about this is my friend, who is a website genius and who works at a hosting company. Therefore, I will be using his expertise as well as his hookup with the company he works for to produce this webpage seeing as how I have no prior experience in this field.

However, if you do find yourself reading this I do encourage you to read on. I do apologize for the length of my first entry. For some reason I feel the need to set the tone. Whether it be for a friend who happens to find out about this, or a random reader, or my for future psychiatrist as I wither away in a nut house.

After having said that I guess its time to explain the title of this, and the websites name: The Path to Insanity. I decided on this choice because its both metaphoric and literal. Metaphoric meaning, this worlds a pretty inhospitable place and who doesn’t feel like its driving them insane. At the same time its literal because I feel the challenge I am facing might actually lead me to become insane. Now to the show.

As I am writing these words it was 18 days ago that I turned 23; not something I feel proud of because I feel like I’m getting old pretty quick. Anyways, credit wise I’m technically a junior at Arizona State University and I am pursuing a degree in “Air Traffic Management.” (I already hold an associates degree). This degree only serves two purposes:  1. To become an Air Traffic Controller.  2. Something to hang on your wall.

Now the FAA, the government body who promotes and regulates air transportation, started this initiative called the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AC-CTI). This initiative started the program which I am in, and also exists at various other colleges. Now the purpose of this program was to create a way to fill the increasing demand for new air traffic controllers.

Therefore, after one has graduated from an accredited institution with such a degree they are placed at the front of the line for controller jobs, since anyone can actually apply to become a controller. However, the FAA has turned its back on the initiative they started, and has altered their hiring strategy to one which is just absolutely ludicrous. They now hire anyone so long as they meet a “personality demographic” that makes no sense. I wont dive deeply into it, but basically you take personality test that asks you pointless questions such as “Did you play sports in high school?” and “Were you popular in high school?”. If you fail to meet their standards you are automatically disqualified (only 200 people out of 10,000 passed during the 2014 hiring).

So I find myself in the position of studying for a degree which no longer does anything for you, yet I am too invested in student loans to turn back. Now there is a uproar in the aviation community about this, and there is a pretty good chance this problem will be resolved. However, having learned the history of air traffic control combined with my general lack of trust for our government, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Now I believe myself to be a highly intelligent person; and I honestly believe I think at higher level than most (If that makes me sound arrogant so be it, if you choose to follow along you’ll find I can be a bit of an asshole). Yet  here I am probably making the stupidest decision of my life: Chasing a dream that has a high probability of not happening and leaving me incased in student debt.

Or I succeed in getting hired, get sent to the training Academy in OKC for a incredibly rigorous 3-4 month training period. The Academy is is where you learn the basics of ATC, or in other words the rules to the greatest and most complex game in the world. This training program is designed to be as stressful as possible, and I’ll basically be fired at the end if I bomb a single test/simulation evaluation. If I make it through  OKC I am then sent to my assignment; most likely a city to the likes of which I have never been and know no one.

Becoming a controller is a little like joining the military, you have little choice of where you initially go. When your training is over all the graduates are ranked upon their scores. This rank then determines the picking order, and going from highest to lowest you get to pick where you go from a FAA pre chosen list of 12-15 facilities. At this point you are then expect to move to whether you have chosen and report for your onsite training wishing a matter of a couple weeks.

This onsite training can take anywhere from a 1-3 years, depending on the type of the facility and its complexity. For example, if you get sent to a small tower, it’ll be more in the realm of a year or less. If you get sent to a center (radar controllers who control planes in-between take off and landings) it can take up to 3 years because there is just so much to know. Now the first year of this is a probationary period in which you can be fired for anything. On top of that you need to meet expected training competency timelines or else you guessed it, your fired; and stilled incased in student debt.

Then if I happen to make it through all of that successfully, which I believe I am capable of doing but unfortunately I’m not foolish enough to be positively certain of it. I am left having an extremely stressful job that I for some reason really want to do. Pretty foolish right?

Now if you do not happen to know what an air traffic controller is, I will probably create a subsection describing it; or if you like movies go download “Pushing Tin.” It should give you a good sense of the job; plus, you’ll get to see Angelina Jolie’s boobs. Thats a win win if I’ve ever heard of one.

So in all this will be collection of experiences and thoughts while I go through what should be a pretty dramatic several years. Because I’m pretty much gambling away a pretty good portion of my life here, and I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do if I lose.