Saturday, November 1, 2008

Go Visit Your Local Tower Today

That's right, if you have not made it a point to take a tour of your local control tower (if you have one), you need to look into doing this. I just took one of my students up to our local tower and TRACON facility yesterday, and it was downright impressive.

With security the way it is nowadays around airports, I'm not sure if everyone out there would even be able to do this or not, but definitely check into it. Ask around your airport if anyone else has been to the tower before. I have the luxery of working at an airport that serves a flight school, and there isn't any airline traffic at our facility. Therefore our controllers are very encouraging to us to visit so we can see how it all works up close and in person.

Our freindly host (a veteran controller at KHUF) showed us around the tower, explained a little bit about what seemed like the 50 computer screens, talked to us about handoffs from approach to tower and other facilities nearby, explained the tower radar screen, and more. The coolest part was that he did this all while working and talking to aircraft on the radios!!

Then we got to go down to the TRACON room. (Our airport is Class D, but also has an approach facility, that usually coincides with Class C). There were three big radar screens with each of them occupied with a different controller, and like the tower, many many computer screens with various information. I could have sat there and just watched them do their work for about an hour or two just because it was that interesting.

The main point is that it gave me a tremendous new respect for what these guys do for us, and it was really cool to get a glimpse into this whole other side of the aviation industry. Go visit your local tower today!


Vincent, from said...

Brandon, I'm working in ATC, but on the technical side, and in Europe. I also encourage anyone with an opportunity to visit a tower or other ATC facilities. Doing so makes possible for pilots to better understand controllers, and vice versa. Controllers are almost always open and happy to have such visitors (except may be during peak hours...). There are unfortunately much more problems with the security guys...

av8erPrince said...

Hi there. You are right about how big of difference it makes in a student pilot's, or any level of pilot for that matter, confidence level. And like you said, it used to be as easy as just show up, but still, if you call them ahead of time, I have always found the folks there very helpful and welcoming. They look at it as as opportunity to show-off, but more so, leads to better communications and safer and easier the airport area.