Thursday, July 26, 2007

RTF Airspace and Facilities (Pics!)

Before I go on to write about the labs, it's probably best that I show you guys what everything looks like so you have a point of reference.

Below is a link to an AAC airspace map I created for my own self-study. The original version has all of the elements split out on different pages (I printed the original version on transparencies so I could keep them next to me), but I compressed them down to just 2 pages in this version.

Download AAC Airspace Map (PDF file)

The different elements include:
  • Arrival / Departure gates
  • Frequences & Airspace division
  • Instrument Approaches
  • Airports
  • Patterns
  • Final Approach Fixes (Woody, Jam, Berry, Chapl)
Next we have the STARS lab. There are six radar stations all along a single wall. The ghost pilots are located upstairs.

A close-up view of a single STARS radar station:

This is, given my limited experience, as close to the real deal as possible. Visible in the photo:
  • On either side of the screen are a variety of knobs and switches that allow you to adjust a large number of parameters - datablock brightness, range ring intervals, map brightness, map views, letter size, history length, etc. Everything's literally at your fingertips, whereas with ACD you have to use submenus to access those options.
  • To the right of the scope is your communications panel. Unlike Tower, where every contact with an outside facility (namely, Academy Approach) is simulated with your instructor, here you actively use the shout lines and interphones to talk to McAlester Flight Service Station, Aero Center, Jeske AFB tower, and your partner working the other sector. It's a touchscreen; depending in who you're calling, you either press and hold the button to talk or toggle a channel on or off.
  • The illuminated keyboard falls comfortably under your right hand when you're working. Not so comfortably, the keys are not your typical QWERTY format. They are arranged in a linear fashion. A, B, C, D, E, F, etc. It takes getting used to, though the speed does pick up pretty quick. Barely visible in the darkness to the left of the keyboard is the trackball.
The upstairs STARS Ghost Pilot systems. For every single STARS radar scope downstairs, there are two of these computer stations. They have similar communications panels to the scopes below so the ghost pilots can call in representing various facilities.

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