Saturday, July 07, 2007

RTF Day 1

So today I moved across the street to the Carter-era RTF building. The powers that be were gracious enough to give me a bit of time to say goodbye to my friends from my tower class. I gave them all DVD-ROMs of all the photos we took while we were here.

I'm really bummed about a couple things, the first of which is being thrown back into training with no break in between. Everyone else in my class gets to move on to their facility (if at least for two weeks like my SoCal friends) and get familiarized with where they'll be working, while I'm still stuck here. I haven't set foot in a TRACON in over six months, and I would have loved the opportunity to at least monitor on-position a bit before being sent back here. But nope; here I am. At least I didn't have to pack and move.

The second thing is that, well, I miss my friends. I've never served in an armed force, but having gone through the tower course with these people I can understand the whole camaraderie thing. You know, where you all work together to succeed in a challenging environment and look after each other despite everyone coming from different walks of life for different reasons. There were of course some people that I was closer with than others, but overall I just miss that group of people. I couldn't have asked for a better group of friends / co-workers / classmates, and now they've all scattered to the farthest reaches of the country. Hopefully we'll run into each other someday.

Anyways, enough of that. On to the subject at hand....

Today's Lessons:
  • Airspace
  • Procedures / Letters of Agreement
The RTF class is a much more condensed class than the Tower course, and you are inundated with a lot of information right from the get-go. They waste no time in getting up to speed, so when you show up you'd better turn your brain to "sponge" mode. Unlike the Tower course, where there was a lot of "fluff" (such as the Tower Equipment, ASOS, and Tower Visibility courses), here it's all meat with zero gristle. Everything you are taught here matters and will be used in the labs.

Academy Approach Airspace

Coming directly from the Tower class, it's kind of cool to zoom out from the too-familiar world of Academy Airport and view the world 40 miles around it. The airspace is fairly simple, although there are a few "gotchas" built-in to make it interesting (more on those later). Some fun facts:
  • 30 mile radius around AAC
  • Two towered airports: AAC and Jeske Air Force Base
  • Three main uncontrolled fields: Bartles, James (no joke), and Viney.
  • All airports have an instrument approach: ILS, NDB, or GPS
  • Two sectors: North, South
  • Four arrival gates: NE, SE, SW, and NW
  • Four departure gates: N, S, E, and W
  • Extends from Surface to 12,000 MSL
  • Bordered by Aero Center's Tulsa Low and Oklahoma City Low Sectors, as well as Springfield Approach to the northeast
Procedures / Letters of Agreement

AAC Approach's airspace naturally shares LOA's with Aero Center, Springfield, AAC Tower, and Jeske AFB. Most of these are pretty straightforward, such as the requirement that aircraft entering Springfield's airspace must be at 5000 or 7000 feet, or that when you're transferring aircraft to Aero Center they need to be 5 miles in trail. However, here are some of the internal rules that govern operations within AAC Approach's airspace:
  • Shared Final: AAC has a single usable ILS, for Runway 28R. As it's the northern of the two parallel runways, it lies within the North sector's airspace. North therefore controls the sequence of aircraft into AAC and South is forced to coordinate with North for slots in the approach sequence.

    For instance, let's say you're South and you've got AAL401 on a left downwind for 28R. You have to call North on the landline and request a slot. He will then respond to you with something akin to "Behind SWA237". So then you'll look out for SWA237 and maneuver your AAL401 in behind him.
  • Internal Traffic: If you have an aircraft in your sector that's heading to an airfield in the other Academy sector, they need to be transferred to the other sector at 6000 feet and the transfer must occur outside of 15nm from AAC Airport but within 30nm.
  • Noise Abatement: Aircraft departing from AAC Airport cannot be turned prior to the aircraft reaching 3000 feet.
  • Jeske Tower Inbounds: Whenever there's an aircraft inbound to Jeske AFB, you have to call the tower and let them know the aircraft's position, call sign, and type. For instance:
    • You: "Jeske tower, Academy South, Inbound."
    • JKE: "Jeske tower"
    • You: "One five miles northwest of Jeske, Viper17, F-16"
Those are a few of the rules we're having to work with. AAC is a pretty stripped down approach facility compared to those in the real world, but it seems to be pretty balanced in that it's relatively simple while still forcing you to think and act.

I'm looking forward to Monday, seeing what it brings.


Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

Good luck in RTF, man. Life at SDL has been good so far, even though most of my day consists of CBI...

Wicked Penguin said...

Hiya Paul, good to hear from you!

I'm glad things are going well over there. I hope those CBI's you're doing are better than that ASOS one we had to do for tower. *shudder*

It must be quite a change heading into the desert after being in OKC for so long. The rain here still hasn't let up! I can't wait to be out of this mud bowl, LOL. Only 19 days left...

Gotten a G-string for your bass yet? :P

Anonymous said...

I have a question, I am going to be graduating from MDC in the next semester or two, but I want to know if you can be as specific as possible as I have to start figuring out how to budget. But, what is the the approx monthly cost that you can come up with to live in OKC? Include housing, car, applicable utilities etc. whatever you think. You can just put it in a monthly basis if you want.


MDC Student :#

Wicked Penguin said...

It depends what you're looking for.

I ended up going with a 1 Bedroom at Walnut Gardens since I wanted a good amount of space and my wife was going to be staying with me for a while. Total for me comes out to around $1162 a month, which is admittedly on the more expensive end of the scale. However, given my prior living situation, I really wanted some room to spread out with my music gear and stuff.

I've seen the "Small effiencies" here at Walnut, and they're very small indeed. However, for a single person with only a little bit of stuff, they work fine. A friend of mine had one and she seemed ok with it. It comes out to around $870 a month. However, it's really only a $300/month difference between eating/ sleeping/ cooking/ studying in a space where the bed takes up most of the floor space, and an actual apartment with separate living, dining, kitchen, and bedroom areas. Utilities are included in all of these, by the way.

Walnut and its affiliates all offer car rentals. If you have full insurance coverage, you can get a car for only $7 a day. Now, it's a very basic Chevy Cavalier - no power windows, no power locks, a CD player that is prone to skipping on potholes. For $2 extra you can upgrade to a PT cruiser, but I'd rather drive a Cavalier than a PT, thank you...

Now, outside of FAA housing, there are a ton of options available to you, especially if you're willing to live with roommates. You just need to look around a bit on places like One friend of mine rented out a room in a house owned by a married couple of two controllers (he's contract ATC, she's military ATC). My friend only pays $400 a month and has her own bathroom, access to the kitchen, etc. She brought her own car, so renting was not an issue at all.

Keep in mind, your pay - if you opt to not take anything out like benefits and such - comes out to around $1200 a month. Most of my female friends wound up with $450 per paycheck ($900 a month) after their benefits packages. What can I say? It sucks and the FAA doesn't give a shit.

john a said...

Anyword on the pass/fail status of RTF. I am in the tower training class right now and I will also be heading right over to RTF as soon as I pv. I start RTF on August 3, I've been hearing rumors that RTF will pass/fail starting with my class. Others have said its pass/pass until October. Have your intructors said anything to your class.

Wicked Penguin said...

For my class and the class previous to us, they actually cancelled PV's. Instead, we're having a third "skill check". They said they couldn't find enough people due to the high volume needed for Tower PV's. I'm just going to go out on a limb and say this has something to do with budget cuts, or maybe it's because it's summer and everyone's on vacation.

My teacher also mentioned that RTF was going pass/fail in September. If your class starts August 3rd, you should fall just short of that. My class started July 6th, and we're finishing on July 31st. I calculated the 18 days on a calendar, and it looks like you'll be getting out August 28th.

I would highly recommend that you start learning some approach and radar phraseology. Do lots of speech exercises to build up your speed and clarity. Clear license plates for lengthy approach clearances. With approach, you're dealing with a much larger picture, so you're going to have to work a lot faster. They've told us that in the later problems we're pretty much going to be talking for 45 minutes straight.