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.