What is the best way to go about shadowing an ATC?

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kzampacorta

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Hi all,

I'm interested in seeing what the ATC and dispatch careers are like. I'm 25, so I feel like it is something I would like to make a decision on sooner rather than later.

I was wondering if any current ATC's have allowed shadowers to come and see what the control towers and what operations are like.

If so, what would be the best way to set up a time to shadow or take a tour of facilities?

I am in Colorado Springs, CO. I was able to find the direct number for the ATC control tower in the Springs, but no information regarding management or who to contact in such a situation as this.

I don't mind calling, but I feel like most people would prefer an e-mail or something to that nature.

Thank you!
 

32andBelow

Trusted Contributor
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324
If your near a city you should try to get a tour of a Center as well. If you get hired you will have a likely chance of being placed in a center with no windows.
 

ATC_av8er

Trusted Contributor
Messages
80
Hi all,

I'm interested in seeing what the ATC and dispatch careers are like. I'm 25, so I feel like it is something I would like to make a decision on sooner rather than later.

I was wondering if any current ATC's have allowed shadowers to come and see what the control towers and what operations are like.

If so, what would be the best way to set up a time to shadow or take a tour of facilities?

I am in Colorado Springs, CO. I was able to find the direct number for the ATC control tower in the Springs, but no information regarding management or who to contact in such a situation as this.

I don't mind calling, but I feel like most people would prefer an e-mail or something to that nature.

Thank you!

PM me
 

Spoony90

Trusted Contributor
Messages
66
TRACON is where you want to go. Tower flowers just control people on the ground so big whoop and center only talks to planes so the pilots have someone to talk to in between controllers.
I was a tower flower for about 7 years then the FAA picked me up and I work at a lvl 8 up/down. I second this comment
 

J-one-s

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59
I personally like centers. Like someone else said about towers, half the time you're babysitting planes on the ground. TRACON is really cool, the controllers there definitely work for their money. Centers are big, and I like the diverse crowd. You're bound to get along with a lot of people. I like the idea of moving around all the different sectors in one area. Like anywhere, sometimes it's slow and easy and sometimes there's busy pushes. I also like the large center breakrooms, kitchens, quiet rooms, and gyms. To each their own.
 

slater

Member
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44
I've worked Tower and Tracon. Tower experience is (street smarts and controllers with the real balls) the closest to air traffic control in it's organic roots. You get to see the immdiate impact of your instructions. Babysitting things on the ground is called ground control and its generally filled with new training controllers. Once you certify in the tower, most of the time you'll end up in charge and working the local traffic pattern. There is a kind of relationship between you and the planes and pilots that is hard to beat. Ive been Radar most of my career and in my opinion, tower is the most fun. Especially when you have 10 planes flying by your command, all less than a mile from one another. "Just don't scratch the paint".

Now, Tracon (book smarts) RADAR is cool in its own right as well. I love it. It takes a 4th dimension mind to work many of the problems. A different level of thinking and why many radar pukes give tower flowers a hard time by self claiming they are smarter than the rest. Many hours of redundancy and protocol transmissions with flurries of split second thinking when you have to fix the auto sequence center just gave you. Mix in different performance aircraft heading to the same spot and the most creative wins. Fighters for the break with air carriers just beneath them, with some trainers in the pattern and squeezing in Fire Tankers and don't forget wale turbulance, during IFR amd VFR everything changes.

Center Pukes, "well hey do you see that traffic? Yea, I'll call it when I get back from my break." Everything is procedurally established, no diverging course or less than 5 miles. Probly gets busy but skimming the bubble is your mission in life.

The way the level system is right now is whack. I know of level 7s that make 100s more transmissions each shift. Airports are traveling more passengers with larger aircraft so numbers are falling and lower levels are suffering, but those 12s are the last on everyone's mind... IMO. Itll happen one day. Restructure.
 

jdatc

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153
Center Pukes, "well hey do you see that traffic? Yea, I'll call it when I get back from my break." Everything is procedurally established, no diverging course or less than 5 miles. Probly gets busy but skimming the bubble is your mission in life.
This thread is pretty funny.

The center stuff really makes me chuckle. Skimming the bubble in the center meant something with the snitch, and even more so when a deal took you to admin land. Tarp is kinder.

I worked at a couple centers a 12, a 10 and now a level 11 tracon. I get to shit on bad center controllers cause I worked it so I know how they should be feeding and what is fucked up. Thats one benefit of doing center for greater then a decade. However, I don’t belittle tower controllers cause I haven’t done that job, Just saw it from the pilot and controller sides.

Of course, everyone thinks everyone else has the easy job.... till they get in the hot seat. I don’t think the level system is out of whack at all though. Who do you think is getting hosed?
 

slater

Member
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44
This thread is pretty funny.

The center stuff really makes me chuckle. Skimming the bubble in the center meant something with the snitch, and even more so when a deal took you to admin land. Tarp is kinder.

I worked at a couple centers a 12, a 10 and now a level 11 tracon. I get to shit on bad center controllers cause I worked it so I know how they should be feeding and what is fucked up. Thats one benefit of doing center for greater then a decade. However, I don’t belittle tower controllers cause I haven’t done that job, Just saw it from the pilot and controller sides.

Of course, everyone thinks everyone else has the easy job.... till they get in the hot seat. I don’t think the level system is out of whack at all though. Who do you think is getting hosed?
I picked up this comment on a jab at "tower flowers". I respect them all in truth. Each is different entirely. The center puke joke was more so to pass on a comment as you just picked up on. My comments are in response to actual transmissions made to me jokingly over the land line from an adjacent center with formed shift partners on "the other side" that I talk to daily at center. It's meant in light spirit as deep down we all have each others back until there is a deal on the boundary, lol. More so before snitch and stars. My first transmission was 1997 when a Cherokee was still a PA28 and 3 strikes you're out.

Its the military we should be jabbing at because, well they ask for it. Except the Navy. Of course.
 

Dolan

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224
I don’t think the level system is out of whack at all though. Who do you think is getting hosed?
Like, compare two facilities and point out who should be making more and who should be making less? I'll go! DVT vs ZLC. I'd argue the DVT controller has more than double the work/difficulty that ZLC does.

In general, the 7-8 VFR towers with heavy pattern traffic really get screwed if you ask me.
 
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