Its days like these that are especially hard. It is 0842 on this friday morning and I just got up and am waiting for my keurig to spit out my coffee. My next class isn’t until 1500 on monday, so thats a three and half day weekend ahead of me. However, I have such a vast amount of homework to do that I don’t think I’m going to have a weekend at all. I am relatively positive I will not leave my apartment except to go to the gym. Now your thinking big deal, you lost a weekend. What you don’t know is that over the past three weeks I’ve been limited to being able to go out only one night, and having to actually leave early so I can get up at a decent hour to do homework the next day. So for it to finally come to not having a weekend at all just sucks a little. Plus valentines day is tomorrow, which is obviously never fun when your single.
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.
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Albert Einstein
Because my desk right now is a mess, and I am using this to justify it.
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.
“Even a fish can’t be caught if he keeps his mouth shut.” – Dave Ramsey, EntreLeadership.
School is starting to get to me a little. After joining a voluntary Non-Radar Separation class I now find myself in six classes, two of which have labs. Therefore, free time at the moment is next to non existent because I literally always have something that I need to do. Non-Radar isn’t for credits or a grade, but its contents are invaluable. It is the first thing they teach you at the academy (if your going for en route), and it also accounts for 14% of your overall grade there. The other students in this class are further in the program than I, so it is a little intimidating. Overall, the objective is to know the map (since it is the same one used at the academy, here is a link to it) inside and out. Every word, number, line, and object must be memorized. Apparently at the academy a test they give is that they hand you a blank piece of paper and make you draw the entire thing from memory. Pretty Gnarly.
“My journey took me somewhat further down the rabbit-hole than I’d intended and, though I dirtied my fluffy white tail, I’ve emerged enlightened.”- RDJ, Sherlock Holmes
January 27th, 2015 20:48
Last night marked the third time since I started at ASU that I’ve had a dream about a plane(s) crashing. I’m thinking this may be some kind of repressed fear surfacing itself since the actual thought of being responsible for thousands of lives a day actually excites me. The odd thing about these dreams though is that these planes aren’t crashing due directly to me; I just happen to be there and witness it.
Dreams are mostly forgotten shortly after waking, so I don’t remember the first one because I probably thought nothing of it at first. The second time I was actually in a control tower and I watched several planes just plummet into the earth and explode; thats pretty memorable. Last night, for some odd reason the aircraft was a space shuttle, and I was just on the street and happened to notice two people eject from it. Then it just withered its way down to the earth like a falling leaf.
Not sure what these dreams mean if dreams actually supposed to mean something. I do plan on asking my professor if this is common among controllers. Therefore, standby for an update.
Update: He said he had never heard of it. However, he told me not to worry about it. He thought it was most likely a result of me learning how much more gnarly being a controller is; compared to what I had in my head before I started this program.
January 21st, 2015 22:01
Found myself involved in a heated argument during the middle of a lab tonight. We took a vote to start the class at 6pm instead of 6:30pm. The class which this lab is for gets out at 5:45pm (and we are all in it). Naturally everyone voted yes because sitting around with your thumb up your ass for 45 minutes sucks. However, one kid said he needed that time to “go get dinner” and ruined it for the rest of us. I called him out on his bullshit across the class in front of everyone and he got rather butt hurt about it. Now we all get to waste 10 hours of our lives over the span of this entire semester because this giant baby can’t pack a protein bar like the rest of us.
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.