Overview of Initial Tower

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Kstoves

Member
Messages
9
Thank you guys so much for all this info.

Regarding the schedule questions... I heard that terminal only has day classes. Now it sounds like terminal is subject to night classes as well. Can you confirm this?

It's also good to know we don't have class on holidays. My start date is 9/29 and my HR rep told me class will end on 12/28. I'm kind of hoping that our class can work something out with the instructors to stay late or come in on weekends so we can finish up before Christmas and be able to potentially travel home, rather than celebrate the holidays in Oklahoma.
 

Jordan

Trusted Contributor
Messages
159
Thank you guys so much for all this info.

Regarding the schedule questions... I heard that terminal only has day classes. Now it sounds like terminal is subject to night classes as well. Can you confirm this?

It's also good to know we don't have class on holidays. My start date is 9/29 and my HR rep told me class will end on 12/28. I'm kind of hoping that our class can work something out with the instructors to stay late or come in on weekends so we can finish up before Christmas and be able to potentially travel home, rather than celebrate the holidays in Oklahoma.
Nice try... First thing you'll learn in OKC is the FAA Academy is a stickler for being fair and equal across the board; not to mention the academy is a ghost town on the weekends. That's not even taking into consideration the logistics of paying OT to students/faculty.

Do what you gotta do to get through okc... Don't worry... This might be the first but certainly not the last Xmas the FAA will ruin for ya!

Best of luck!
 

breakaway2000

Legendary Member
Messages
1,693
Thank you guys so much for all this info.

Regarding the schedule questions... I heard that terminal only has day classes. Now it sounds like terminal is subject to night classes as well. Can you confirm this?

It's also good to know we don't have class on holidays. My start date is 9/29 and my HR rep told me class will end on 12/28. I'm kind of hoping that our class can work something out with the instructors to stay late or come in on weekends so we can finish up before Christmas and be able to potentially travel home, rather than celebrate the holidays in Oklahoma.
Enroute and Terminal have day and night classes at the academy, you'll rotate between days/nights throughout.
As far as working extra or weekends, like Jordan said, it won't happen. They're incredibly strict on timeline/fairness.
Ex. You can't stay after and run simulator problems because it's seen as an unfair advantage.
 

Foxington

Lurker
Messages
6
The information in the OP is more or less correct. There definitely were some tricky situations in some of the PA problem with very well executed timing on their part to force the trainee to react quickly. On both of my Locals one of the first couple of VFR inbound were a slow guy like a Cherokee or a Skyhawk from MacDonald requesting multiple T/G. A few spawns later there would be a twin of some sort like a C421 or a AC68 just to the south of Riverside that will call up for a full stop. Depending on how quickly you get to the first guy and what pattern entry you gave him, a few situations might develop. If you gave the T/G straight in 28L and the twin a left base 28L, the twin will overtake and likely collide with the T/G before or right at the normal left base turn point/final "pocket" or "box" of 28L. If you gave both left base, same as before but the overtake/sep error will happen a little sooner. If you took the T/G left downwind in anticipation of a faster guy calling in from E/SE, the scenario is timed such that as the T/G is crossing north of Riverside to join left downwind 28L, the twin will call in approx less than 2 miles S/SW of the T/G traffic and will proceed left base absent any commands, which is a guaranteed sep error/collision/missed safety alert situation with your left downwind T/G if no corrective actions are taken.
 

breakaway2000

Legendary Member
Messages
1,693
The information in the OP is more or less correct. There definitely were some tricky situations in some of the PA problem with very well executed timing on their part to force the trainee to react quickly. On both of my Locals one of the first couple of VFR inbound were a slow guy like a Cherokee or a Skyhawk from MacDonald requesting multiple T/G. A few spawns later there would be a twin of some sort like a C421 or a AC68 just to the south of Riverside that will call up for a full stop. Depending on how quickly you get to the first guy and what pattern entry you gave him, a few situations might develop. If you gave the T/G straight in 28L and the twin a left base 28L, the twin will overtake and likely collide with the T/G before or right at the normal left base turn point/final "pocket" or "box" of 28L. If you gave both left base, same as before but the overtake/sep error will happen a little sooner. If you took the T/G left downwind in anticipation of a faster guy calling in from E/SE, the scenario is timed such that as the T/G is crossing north of Riverside to join left downwind 28L, the twin will call in approx less than 2 miles S/SW of the T/G traffic and will proceed left base absent any commands, which is a guaranteed sep error/collision/missed safety alert situation with your left downwind T/G if no corrective actions are taken.
I appreciate the insight as to what is running through people's heads at the academy now.
There's been a lot of speculation as to why the 2017 classes have done so poorly when the new grading system has been in place since 2014. I never stopped to consider the quality of the lead instructors.

Granted, I'm an old timer, but I'd be curious to hear other old timers thoughts about their experience and instructors prior to 2014.
Do instructors really teach giving someone from MacDonald's bridge a straight in now?

Prior to 2014 we were taught this in reference to MR. SOC...
M - No conflicts? 100% Base. Conflicts arise such as a straight in to 28L? Change to downwind, extend as needed.
R - 100% downwind
S - 100% downwind
O - 100% downwind
C - 100% downwind

Downwind pattern entry differences between type aircraft
Cat 1 - will fly a "normal" downwind
Cat 2 - will fly a wider downwind then Cat 1
Cat 3 - will fly a wider downwind then Cat 2

Cat 1, Cat 2, and Cat 3 will all fly the same 1 mile base leg unless their downwind is extended.

The best way I can describe the leads back then is they made every conflict point black and white. There was a right way to do it and a wrong way that was going to cause you a lot more grief, headaches, traffic calls, safety alerts, etc.

Basically, they would acknowledge what the academy would allow you to do is really only the tip of the iceberg with how you can really control traffic, but they would teach you the technique needed to "beat" the game.
How pro-active are they teaching technique now?
 

ATOH

Trusted Contributor
Messages
97
What I felt in my class was that the sim instructors would constantly be parroting the weakest students by telling them what to do every transmission. Or the weaker student would constantly seek verification of every control instruction from the instructor. Ex. “Should I turn the cherokee’s base now or extend him?” Usually with the instructor giving in.

Then on evaluation day when the student had nobody to seek advice from or to parrot them they were clueless.

My lead was great but many of the sim instructors left a lot to be desired. RTF was exactly the same. I think what people forget is that the sim instructors work FOR you. If you have an issue with one speak up....its your career at stake, not theirs.
 

Robertb

Forum Sage
FAA
Messages
460
Facility
A80 Atlanta Tracon
I had zero issues with my instructors for Tower Sim (2009) or RTF (2010). Tower Sim guys were from ORD and MSP. RTF guys were from A80 and SAT. I think the academy was great. Honestly, I'd say that people aren't putting in the time and energy to truly learn ATC and it is affecting their ability to pass the academy and achieve certification and their first facility.

How I was trained and how I train at facility:
I am a huge fan of parroting, early in your training/instruction, so that you can learn, give instructions to aircraft, and see the better ways to make something work. After roughly 10-20% of this, then you start "free thinking" as a trainee until you're around 20-35% of your hours. If you do something that's going to bite you, it is quickly corrected by your instructor, without allowing you to get in trouble at this point and it is discussed off the boards or as time permits on position. After 20-35%, you're allowed to make mistakes and given the opportunity to fix them as a trainee. If you do fix the issue, the instructor and you talk about what got you into that situation. If you don't fix the issue as a trainee, we discuss how to get out of it and not get into that problem in the first place. Around 50%, there is a really good idea of whether you're going to certify or not. At that point, you are allowed to make mistakes and attempt to fix them. You either fix them and you train until you potentially certify or you don't fix them and Skill Enhancement is being done frequently to try to correct issues to hopefully achieve certification. After 50%, I rarely say anything on position to the trainee unless it is an abnormal situation. Normal situations you've seen before, you either work them out or you don't.
 

ATOH

Trusted Contributor
Messages
97
I agree with your methodology. But there were folks in my class that were having their hands held on Problems 11-13. Not a good sign.

I had an issue with only one RTF instructor would begin every problem by saying “Ok, now I’m just gonna sit back and watch” and then thirty seconds in the problem he would be telling me to try something new. I think a lot of them get bored seeing the same problems over and over and the controller mentality takes over to correct a situation when you see it needs correction.

When I went through tower you had a different sim instructor every run. I think they should adopt the RTF method of giving two instructors per 3 students. That way each instructor is more in tune with their given students.

I should say the vast majority of my lab instructors in OKC were good but nothing compared to real OJT at a busy facility.
 

Golfr1604

Member
Messages
20
I appreciate the insight as to what is running through people's heads at the academy now.
There's been a lot of speculation as to why the 2017 classes have done so poorly when the new grading system has been in place since 2014. I never stopped to consider the quality of the lead instructors.

Granted, I'm an old timer, but I'd be curious to hear other old timers thoughts about their experience and instructors prior to 2014.
Do instructors really teach giving someone from MacDonald's bridge a straight in now?

Prior to 2014 we were taught this in reference to MR. SOC...
M - No conflicts? 100% Base. Conflicts arise such as a straight in to 28L? Change to downwind, extend as needed.
R - 100% downwind
S - 100% downwind
O - 100% downwind
C - 100% downwind

Downwind pattern entry differences between type aircraft
Cat 1 - will fly a "normal" downwind
Cat 2 - will fly a wider downwind then Cat 1
Cat 3 - will fly a wider downwind then Cat 2

Cat 1, Cat 2, and Cat 3 will all fly the same 1 mile base leg unless their downwind is extended.

The best way I can describe the leads back then is they made every conflict point black and white. There was a right way to do it and a wrong way that was going to cause you a lot more grief, headaches, traffic calls, safety alerts, etc.

Basically, they would acknowledge what the academy would allow you to do is really only the tip of the iceberg with how you can really control traffic, but they would teach you the technique needed to "beat" the game.
How pro-active are they teaching technique now?
Wow, we just finished our first week of academics in initial tower and we are already being taught that any a/c reporting from MacDonald's bridge should be told to make straight-in for 28L...what would the advantages for having him make an entry to left base instead of straight-in? I just thought I would extend downwind if another twin pops up behind the skyhawk/cherokee.

This forum has been great so far btw.
 

Robertb

Forum Sage
FAA
Messages
460
Facility
A80 Atlanta Tracon
Wow, we just finished our first week of academics in initial tower and we are already being taught that any a/c reporting from MacDonald's bridge should be told to make straight-in for 28L...what would the advantages for having him make an entry to left base instead of straight-in? I just thought I would extend downwind if another twin pops up behind the skyhawk/cherokee.

This forum has been great so far btw.
So it sounds like some instructors are teaching you how to beat the problems but not how to completely and efficiently run air traffic. That's quite unfortunate.
 

breakaway2000

Legendary Member
Messages
1,693
Wow, we just finished our first week of academics in initial tower and we are already being taught that any a/c reporting from MacDonald's bridge should be told to make straight-in for 28L...what would the advantages for having him make an entry to left base instead of straight-in? I just thought I would extend downwind if another twin pops up behind the skyhawk/cherokee.

This forum has been great so far btw.
Man that's interesting, definitely a complete change from yesteryear. In terms of why, it's more in line with how you'd control traffic in the real world. He's coming in close to perpendicular and above the midfield, which points to a natural base leg. Back then, we knew if given a base, they would enter a one mile left base. If needed (if you had someone coming straight in to 28L) it was easy to adjust them to a downwind entry. Their trajectory would only change slightly when adjusting from a base to a downwind. Without any experience, I can't say for certain how smoothly a straight in to a downwind transition would go.
As we were never taught to give someone from MacDonald's bridge a straight in, I can't say for sure where they would join a straight in. (maybe someone else can chime in who's been there recently). You'll progress to having Cheyenne's, King Air's, and Gulfstreams coming straight in to 28L. For instance, on my PA, the first aircraft that popped up with a C172 from MacDonald's bridge for touch and goes. The second was a fast mover straight in to 28L a few minutes later (without the ability to change to 28R). Depending on where the Macdonald's aircraft enters his straight in, I could see that being a tricky situation to overcome if the overtake is happening after he establishes himself on final.
 
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breakaway2000

Legendary Member
Messages
1,693
I agree with everything RobertB and ATOH had to say as well. Parroting is a real issue at the academy. Always has been, always will be. I agree with RobertB that some parroting is necessary early on, but if you want to be successful at the academy, that has to stop quick. Between tabletops and 3d, parroting should be just about finished when you guys move to the TSS. Like ATOH mentioned, those instructors are working for you. If parroting is still going on in the TSS, let your leads know, that's what they're there for. Our leads used to meet with our TSS instructors prior to each day with our basic guidelines (no parroting, no suggestions, no conversations during the problem, etc). You can always approach your TSS instructor and go, "Hey, would you mind grading/treating this problem like it was a PA?". I've seen that work on even the heaviest parroting instructors at the academy.
You guys need to be doing everything on your own as long as possible through the TSS. You'll make mistakes, you'll dig yourself into holes, but you'll come away learning more from that experience and seeing the cause and effect rather then just having your instructor tell you what to do to avoid it all.
 

Golfr1604

Member
Messages
20
Man that's interesting, definitely a complete change from yesteryear. In terms of why, it's more in line with how you'd control traffic in the real world. He's coming in close to perpendicular and above the midfield, which points to a natural base leg. Back then, we knew if given a base, they would enter a one mile left base. If needed (if you had someone coming straight in to 28L) it was easy to adjust them to a downwind entry. Their trajectory would only change slightly when adjusting from a base to a downwind. Without any experience, I can't say for certain how smoothly a straight in to a downwind transition would go.
As we were never taught to give someone from MacDonald's bridge a straight in, I can't say for sure where they would join a straight in. (maybe someone else can chime in who's been there recently). You'll progress to having Cheyenne's, King Air's, and Gulfstreams coming straight in to 28L. For instance, on my PA, the first aircraft that popped up with a C172 from MacDonald's bridge for touch and goes. The second was a fast mover straight in to 28L a few minutes later (without the ability to change to 28R). Depending on where the Macdonald's aircraft enters his straight in, I could see that being a tricky situation to overcome if the overtake is happening after he establishes himself on final.
Thanks for the breakdown! That does make sense...I will be bringing up these points to our instructor Monday. Our instructor is old school, he retired from the academy this past August and he came back to teach our class. He has so far given us a lot of good pointers and we are still weeks away from tabletops/3D.
 

Stinger

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
1,136
The information in the OP is more or less correct. There definitely were some tricky situations in some of the PA problem with very well executed timing on their part to force the trainee to react quickly. On both of my Locals one of the first couple of VFR inbound were a slow guy like a Cherokee or a Skyhawk from MacDonald requesting multiple T/G. A few spawns later there would be a twin of some sort like a C421 or a AC68 just to the south of Riverside that will call up for a full stop. Depending on how quickly you get to the first guy and what pattern entry you gave him, a few situations might develop. If you gave the T/G straight in 28L and the twin a left base 28L, the twin will overtake and likely collide with the T/G before or right at the normal left base turn point/final "pocket" or "box" of 28L. If you gave both left base, same as before but the overtake/sep error will happen a little sooner. If you took the T/G left downwind in anticipation of a faster guy calling in from E/SE, the scenario is timed such that as the T/G is crossing north of Riverside to join left downwind 28L, the twin will call in approx less than 2 miles S/SW of the T/G traffic and will proceed left base absent any commands, which is a guaranteed sep error/collision/missed safety alert situation with your left downwind T/G if no corrective actions are taken.
Give the Skyhawk from McDonald's Bridge a straight in, and then when the twin from Riverside calls up give him a downwind and then extend it as needed. I think the only VFR arrivals that default to base/straight-in are the McDonald's Bridge arrivals. If you let everyone else fly without instructions, they'll enter the downwind.

I appreciate the insight as to what is running through people's heads at the academy now.
There's been a lot of speculation as to why the 2017 classes have done so poorly when the new grading system has been in place since 2014. I never stopped to consider the quality of the lead instructors.

Granted, I'm an old timer, but I'd be curious to hear other old timers thoughts about their experience and instructors prior to 2014.
Do instructors really teach giving someone from MacDonald's bridge a straight in now?

Prior to 2014 we were taught this in reference to MR. SOC...
M - No conflicts? 100% Base. Conflicts arise such as a straight in to 28L? Change to downwind, extend as needed.
R - 100% downwind
S - 100% downwind
O - 100% downwind
C - 100% downwind

Downwind pattern entry differences between type aircraft
Cat 1 - will fly a "normal" downwind
Cat 2 - will fly a wider downwind then Cat 1
Cat 3 - will fly a wider downwind then Cat 2

Cat 1, Cat 2, and Cat 3 will all fly the same 1 mile base leg unless their downwind is extended.

The best way I can describe the leads back then is they made every conflict point black and white. There was a right way to do it and a wrong way that was going to cause you a lot more grief, headaches, traffic calls, safety alerts, etc.

Basically, they would acknowledge what the academy would allow you to do is really only the tip of the iceberg with how you can really control traffic, but they would teach you the technique needed to "beat" the game.
How pro-active are they teaching technique now?
When I went through tower class, we were taught that straight-ins from Mcdonald Bridge worked great. It gives you more options with your current pattern traffic and others entering the downwind. Telling the McDonald Bridge aircraft to enter left base added somewhere between .5-1 mile of flight vs the straight in. Riverside entries are 50/50 with base vs downwind. Twins and the faster singles will do fine on a base entry if they're number one. Otherwise a downwind would make sense. Don't know the sequence yet....then enter downwind and don't forget to extend the upwind of the traffic that's doing a T/G on 28L to solve that conflict.

Wow, we just finished our first week of academics in initial tower and we are already being taught that any a/c reporting from MacDonald's bridge should be told to make straight-in for 28L...what would the advantages for having him make an entry to left base instead of straight-in? I just thought I would extend downwind if another twin pops up behind the skyhawk/cherokee.

This forum has been great so far btw.
Yes, stick with the straight in from McDonald's Bridge. There is no advantage for telling it to enter left base, it'll only make the aircraft go direct to the normal base point, which is where all your other pattern traffic normally is. The straight in entry will go direct to a 2-mile final, which will allow you the option of short-approaching the downwind to get inside, or extending the downwind to follow your straight-in.

Do not be afraid of telling a fast-mover from the east to make straight-in 28R. If your 28L final is already full you're potentially going to be in a world of hurt adding a fast mover straight in. But if you put him in to 28R and realize you won't have space with an IFR arrival that's either in front or behind him, give the appropriate IFR arrival a go-around and coordinate it with departure. Last thing you want is to send your Gulfstream around because of overtake on final and then add him to your already full pattern. An IFR go-around will never come back, they're gone. :)

Remember that 360s are an option as well. If you give someone a left base or straight in, and then a fast mover calls up that will now cause a conflict, give the fast mover a 360 if you feel like it after giving the pattern entry instruction.
 

Stinger

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
1,136
Make a 360 if you want to watch 5 points light up in flames.
Yeah if you tell an airplane to make a 360 on base, inside of two mile final, or because you forgot to extend an upwind to make room for your downwind entry, you deserve to lose points. Or giving more than one 360 in the same trip around the pattern is a good indication your first 360 was a terrible call.

There are times when a 360 is a great tool when used correctly.
 

mrobs15

Trusted Contributor
I ♥ pointSixtyFive
Messages
292
Yeah if you tell an airplane to make a 360 on base, inside of two mile final, or because you forgot to extend an upwind to make room for your downwind entry, you deserve to lose points. Or giving more than one 360 in the same trip around the pattern is a good indication your first 360 was a terrible call.

There are times when a 360 is a great tool when used correctly.
If your 360 isn't proactive they'll take off points for not planning your sequence too.
 

RH316

Trusted Contributor
Messages
144
You can beat your kids, you can beat your wives, but you can't beat a straight-in
 
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