Overview of Initial Tower

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Stinger

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You can beat your kids, you can beat your wives, but you can't beat a straight-in
Just because someone is fast and straight-in, doesn't mean they're automatically number one. It usually works better if they are, but they don't have to be.
 

ATCMAMA

Lurker
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1
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?
Yes they really teach "straight in is best. Nothing beats a straight in. Always downwind them and put them on the straight-ins ass."

The teaching is different. There was no "right" or "wrong." A lot of grays and shaded areas. I guess it depends on the leads. My class was taught:
M- it's best to straight in them ALL the time and adjust those around with a downwind. We were also told you can base them but never told about putting them on a downwind. A lot of instructors during sims wouldn't like us to base them and even had one argue a classmate down as to say never put them on a downwind.
R- Best to base them or downwind them
The same for SOC.
 

breakaway2000

Legendary Member
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1,693
Yes they really teach "straight in is best. Nothing beats a straight in. Always downwind them and put them on the straight-ins ass."

The teaching is different. There was no "right" or "wrong." A lot of grays and shaded areas. I guess it depends on the leads. My class was taught:
M- it's best to straight in them ALL the time and adjust those around with a downwind. We were also told you can base them but never told about putting them on a downwind. A lot of instructors during sims wouldn't like us to base them and even had one argue a classmate down as to say never put them on a downwind.
R- Best to base them or downwind them
The same for SOC.
As long as it's consistent from the leads to the instructors in the TSS that's really all that matters. As you mentioned, huge conflicts can arise when your leads tell you one way to do it and your TSS instructor swears by something different. If anyone is dealing with a situation like that, it's important to bring it up with your leads, that's what they're there for.
In the end, it's just interesting their teaching dynamic and philosophy has shifted over the years.
 

HighFrequency

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30
Didn't want to start a new thread for this, but any tips on pad/strip management when starting TT/3D? Seems like organization has been one of the bigger hurdles for people in my class (myself included). I've got a decent pad setup that's worked for me in slower problems but I have my doubts it will hold up in busier scenarios. I've been trying to integrate half strips in anticipation of pattern work but it's been sloppy at best.
 
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RH316

Trusted Contributor
Messages
144
I would suggest trying strips. Especially for the busier problems in the TSS with keeping track of guys in your pattern. Looking back (2 weeks removed from the academy) not one person in my graduating class used pad on local. Some of those who failed and used pad, I would say it wasn’t that they couldn’t work the traffic- it was them getting confused about who is who in the pattern.
Personally, I was in the same situation as yourself- early on. I used pad and it was manageable for the easy problems, but an instructor told me that he has yet to see a graduate use pad on local (not sure how true that is).
If you do go to strips, sort them bottom to top of order in your pattern are in line to land, touch&go, stop&go, or low approach. The ones that are full stop, turn them vertically once they’ve landed that way it’s less confusing with the others still in the pattern. Once they have landed write a big “E” “D” or “F” for the taxi way they”ve exited RWY 28L on, so you know where they are holding short of 28R and you don’t forget to cross them when you have a Chance.(most pad users get confused about who is who in between RWYs) This worked very well for me, especially when you get to problems 10-13 and you’ve got 3 guys doing T/Gs constantly thoughout the 45 minute problem, meanwhile challengers, gulf streams, and falcons calling up for a full stop. Lol. The last thing you want to lose track of is who is who in the pattern. Long story short- try strips.
 

corn4ahead

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Messages
412
I would suggest trying strips. Especially for the busier problems in the TSS with keeping track of guys in your pattern. Looking back (2 weeks removed from the academy) not one person in my graduating class used pad on local. Some of those who failed and used pad, I would say it wasn’t that they couldn’t work the traffic- it was them getting confused about who is who in the pattern.
Personally, I was in the same situation as yourself- early on. I used pad and it was manageable for the easy problems, but an instructor told me that he has yet to see a graduate use pad on local (not sure how true that is).
If you do go to strips, sort them bottom to top of order in your pattern are in line to land, touch&go, stop&go, or low approach. The ones that are full stop, turn them vertically once they’ve landed that way it’s less confusing with the others still in the pattern. Once they have landed write a big “E” “D” or “F” for the taxi way they”ve exited RWY 28L on, so you know where they are holding short of 28R and you don’t forget to cross them when you have a Chance.(most pad users get confused about who is who in between RWYs) This worked very well for me, especially when you get to problems 10-13 and you’ve got 3 guys doing T/Gs constantly thoughout the 45 minute problem, meanwhile challengers, gulf streams, and falcons calling up for a full stop. Lol. The last thing you want to lose track of is who is who in the pattern. Long story short- try strips.
I used the pad just fine at the Academy and finished near the top of my class.

That being said, I only use strips when I'm actually working LC now. Lol
 

Hissmeowra

Member
Messages
28
I would suggest trying strips. Especially for the busier problems in the TSS with keeping track of guys in your pattern. Looking back (2 weeks removed from the academy) not one person in my graduating class used pad on local. Some of those who failed and used pad, I would say it wasn’t that they couldn’t work the traffic- it was them getting confused about who is who in the pattern.
Personally, I was in the same situation as yourself- early on. I used pad and it was manageable for the easy problems, but an instructor told me that he has yet to see a graduate use pad on local (not sure how true that is).
If you do go to strips, sort them bottom to top of order in your pattern are in line to land, touch&go, stop&go, or low approach. The ones that are full stop, turn them vertically once they’ve landed that way it’s less confusing with the others still in the pattern. Once they have landed write a big “E” “D” or “F” for the taxi way they”ve exited RWY 28L on, so you know where they are holding short of 28R and you don’t forget to cross them when you have a Chance.(most pad users get confused about who is who in between RWYs) This worked very well for me, especially when you get to problems 10-13 and you’ve got 3 guys doing T/Gs constantly thoughout the 45 minute problem, meanwhile challengers, gulf streams, and falcons calling up for a full stop. Lol. The last thing you want to lose track of is who is who in the pattern. Long story short- try strips.
I second this. I was in the same class, and there was at least one person who passed who used a combination of strips and pad on local, but I and most others found that organisation became much easier when we ditched the pad altogether. I would recommend using the same system for each runway though, e.g. if you are more comfortable using a pad for 28L arrivals, write down your 28L departures on the pad also. IMO, mixing strips and pad for a single runway is an invitation to forget your sequence when the problem gets busy.

Also, when your VFR departures become airborne, or a t/g is departing VFR to the west, move their half-strip somewhere out of the way but easily accessible in case you need to call traffic later. Same goes for VFR 16 departures or t/g's departing to the S or SW.

Most importantly, make everything you do with strips or your pad mean something to you. For example, I used the yellow side of half-strips to write down inbounds on the ILS so I could quickly distinguish them from VFR departures from 28R. After I cleared somebody to land, I would move their strip down, leaving a gap between them and the subsequent aircraft, so I could immediately tell who had already been cleared to land. The more specific information you can derive from a quick glance at your work area, the better -- as the instructors will say, you *will* lose the picture, but how quickly you get it back is what matters!
 

HighFrequency

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Didn't see the replies until after class tonight, but really appreciate the info. I ended up basically coming to the same conclusions after a few runs today.

Never thought of turning the arrived strips to distinguish them, so I'll give that a shot. The little things like keeping gaps to distinguish Cleared and Not Cleared were super helpful and don't take any time too.

Basically what I've been doing now, is to split a sheet of paper into two columns. These columns are just a template for me to lay strips on since there isn't a proper strip bay. The left column is my Pattern/Arrivals. I keep my 28L, etc. pattern sequenced and constantly shuffling, above and distinct from my distant call-ins and 28R, etc. arrivals. Once I find a pattern slot for one, it gets brought to the sequence. Bottom flight is ideally cleared to land unless circumstances change, then it's shuffled back up top to be resequenced.

On the right side I have my departures, which is pretty straight forward. They're ordered top to bottom, with bottom being most likely to launch first. If things change, a quick glance and reorder sets it straight.

I'm still working out some kinks with local but your tips should help with that. Minus the pattern bit, the system above worked damn near flawless on the ground runs I used it for (with minor adjustments of course). Major improvements over Day 1, and I think Day 3 will be even smoother. Thanks again.
 
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Stinger

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When I came through for tower class in the PV days, almost everyone used the pad only. Every instructor said I was crazy for trying strips, and I kinda stuck with it out of spite. Airplane lifts off, strip goes to the top of the stack. Next to touch down is on the bottom.
Seems like now I hear about everyone using strips. I'd say just write the IFR arrivals on a piece of paper and not worry about a strip on them.
 

mrobs15

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When I came through for tower class in the PV days, almost everyone used the pad only. Every instructor said I was crazy for trying strips, and I kinda stuck with it out of spite. Airplane lifts off, strip goes to the top of the stack. Next to touch down is on the bottom.
Seems like now I hear about everyone using strips. I'd say just write the IFR arrivals on a piece of paper and not worry about a strip on them.
This is what I did, Pad on the left where I wrote the IFR arrivals. Strips for my pattern directly in front of me and departure strips to my right. When my pattern planes would land I would turn them and align them with my pad based on which taxiway they had turned onto(I think D was aligned with the lower part of my pad and then E and F going up the page). Others would turn the strip and write the taxiway and circle it. I tried both and both worked for me but somewhere along the way I decided that I liked being able to use the position of the strip to tell where they were waiting to cross at rather than having to look for what I wrote down.
 
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