This whole living in Virginia thing is going swimmingly thus far.
Anonymous asked: Sooooo when do you see your awesome girlfriend again??????????
Lets take a moment to talk about all of the male name-town/ville/burg navaids on this map, particularly the northwest corner, that are driving me nuts trying to keep straight…
Johnstown, Morgantown, Martinsburg, Clarksburg, Lewisburg, Lawrenceville, Grantsville, Gordonsville…
Anonymous asked: Congrats on finishing training! It's your first day of work at ZDC tomorrow, but does that mean you're going to be on the radio right away? I think you mentioned that you have to memorize another map.... When should I expect to be talking to you if I'm on with Washington Center?
Oh lord no. If you’d like to talk to me on the radio you’d better sit tight and not start your engines just yet, because it’ll be quite a while. To say that I’ve “finished training” is actually very inaccurate, and I’m guilty of perpetuating that statement. Really finishing the academy means my actual training has just barely begun.
The typical training cycle of an enroute controller takes approximately 3 years from date of entry. I’m upstairs for the next 6 or so weeks drawing maps. First the center high map then later my specific area map in greater detail. When I pass those map tests along with some other tests about navaid and airport identifiers, aircraft characteristics, air carrier and military callsigns, etc, then I go down to the control room floor as a freshly minted “A side” controller. They should call it the “U side” because you’re completely Useless. Your whole job is to basically sit and watch and absorb information about how the guys in your area work traffic through your sectors. That’ll be how I spend most of my summer and early fall. Then comes what they call “D school” where you go back in the classroom for 11 weeks to learn to be a radar associate controller (i.e., the position that I trained on at the academy. Sort of the assistant controller). I’m told somewhere between September and December for my D school. Then you go back to the floor, check out on D side positions, and work them for a bit. Then eventually you go back upstairs for “R school” for several more weeks where you finally learn the main function of an enroute controller. When you finally come back down to the floor for the third time to start R side training is when you finally start talking to airplanes. Optimistically that might be as soon as next year sometime. Realistically, two or more years from now wouldn’t be unheard of.
Your progress isn’t entirely aptitude based (though the better you are, the faster you check out generally). A lot of it has to do with waiting for classroom space, waiting for days that are staffed well enough to train, and waiting for times of day where traffic volume is busy enough to make training beneficial. It’s a really, really long path to check out, but once you do it was hopefully all worth it.
This is the Washington Center high altitude map, color coded by area. To orient you with what you’re looking at, Washington DC is underneath the middle of the dark red area, Philly’s at the top of that red, New York is at the top of the pink on the right, and the bottom of the color is the North/South Carolina border with Charlotte on the far bottom left.
Today I got assigned Area 2, DC metro south (the yellow part). It covers the airspace from Richmond all the way down to Raleigh and includes primarily arrivals and departures from DC, Baltimore, Newark, and LaGuardia. Though the areas surrounding us handle JFK, Philly, Atlanta, and Charlotte, so I’m not sure yet how much carry over there is. Is is, without a doubt I’m told, the busiest area in the building, doing about 30,000 more operations a year than the next busiest area.
Email from my new training manager re: dress code.
First day of work is tomorrow. I think this facility is going to be juuuust my speed
I arrived in DC yesterday afternoon and we promptly celebrated by hitting up a few choice locations for some adult refreshments.
Did you know the area near 14th and U St is a Drug Free Zone? Well now you do.
I irresponsibly took this poorly framed and hastily snapped photo today while doing 75 mph through downtown Memphis on Interstate 40. Though however foolish my decision to play with my phone while speeding, I wanted to capture this moment of driving past an otherwise nondescript Crown Plaza on the banks of the Mississippi River.
It’s because I was sitting in a room on the 6th floor of this hotel when I wrote this post a little over two years ago. I can actually make out the exact window (4th from the right). I stayed here for two weeks during indoc training on the Q400 in April 2011. It was here that I got the email informing me I had been selected by Washington Center to proceed to the next step as a potential air traffic controller candidate. And it was here I had my first existential crisis where I pissed and moaned about all the great opportunities I had coming my way like a spoiled child.
Anyway, I hadn’t thought of it, but this is sort of where it all began to a certain extent and the fact that I drove right past it today sort of made it come full circle.