There’s a picture of the airplane I was flying less than two weeks ago on the front of the book consisting of the first block of lessons for this course. It’s giving me feelings. Other notes of interest regarding this first week:
- There are an alarmingly large number of ways you can wash out or get fired during this 4 month training course. Most of them are pretty common, fail a test, get a DUI, etc, but some are extremely strict. You’re late twice: fired. You get a moving violation on campus: fired. You forget to turn off your cell phone and put it in the box in the back of the room: fired. The FAA does not front. We’re told in general 30% wash out, though that number fluctuates.
- I have the most aviation experience of anyone else in the class by a fairly large margin, though there are a couple of other flight instructors and a guy who flew a contract King Air. This has made me a de facto leader in a room full of type A people, which is strange but I’m actually okay with it.
- The MMPI is the psych test used to evaluate air traffic candidates, though today we learned that in the implementation of this test back in 2007, they ran some studies from current controllers and figured out they had to skew some cut lines, particularly in the realm of hypomania, or what the examiner referred to as “bounciness.” It turns out that many successful controllers displayed particularly high levels of this. So she said if they hadn’t skewed the cut levels, some very good controller candidates may have been medically disqualified during the application process for being “bouncier” than normal…but not too “bouncy” to be a controller apparently.
- Speaking of research studies, there is data that supports the theory that self efficacy in air traffic control candidates is directly correlated with success. That is to say, if you think you’re going to be successful at training, you view it as a challenge to overcome and are statistically more successful. If you fear you’ll wash, you view it as threats to avoid, and you’re statistically more likely to wash. Needless to say, as the most experienced guy in the room, I like my odds at 70/30.
- The first part of this course is Basics, which is to say, everything I already know and have been both teaching and doing professionally for the last 5 years. Literally, it’s a 4 year aviation degree crammed into 5 weeks so it’ll be drinking from a fire hose for the guys with no aviation background. But for myself and the other pilots, not to say I’m discounting it, but this is essentially a refresher. A very dry, very boring refresher. I find it frustrating being taught something I already know as if I don’t know it, so my biggest challenge until we start non-radar training in February is going to be battling that frustration and staying awake in class. Because they’ll fire you for falling asleep too. Turns out after the last couple of years the FAA is very sensitive to controllers sleeping. Imagine that.