Friday, February 20, 2009

Kinda Frustrated

I guess you could call this a venting post.

To put it bluntly, I'm getting a little tired of getting my butt kicked.

I've been training on our main Pensacola bank for about six months now. It's usually divided up between two scopes: East and West. The West side is a wide open expanse without much in it. It only really sees some action when we're on runway 8. The East side, however, is the most screwed up, chopped up, and overly used sector in the house.

I'm doing fine on the West sector. And when I get some pro-time on the Whiting sectors, I feel good. I know the airspace, the traffic, all that, and I just work it. I keep up with it well, because I work off of instinct. I don't have to think too much about what my traffic needs - I just do it.

The East sector, however, is deceptive. This is one of those where if you think you have enough time to do really don't. You can literally have zero airplanes one moment, and the next you're covered up with 15 airplanes doing 15 different things and going down in flames. All the stuff you thought you had time to do... you don't anymore. You're constantly on the land lines with Jacksonville Center and Eglin Approach, and on the internal lines with every other sector in the room. It feels like your attention is pulled a hundred ways at once,.

I think my problem boils down to one word: speed.

When I sit down and it's slow, and then it gets busy, I'm having trouble ramping up my pace to match the traffic. It's like I over think things too much, and it slows me down.

Basically, I know what to do with the aircraft. I know my rules, my airspace, and my procedures. I just don't do it fast enough. I know that AirTran needs to be turned and descended for a visual to 35. I know that Navy trainer needs to be sent direct to the Saufley VOR for holding. I know that departing Gulf Flight needs to be climbed and handed off to the Jax Center. I know I need to make that point out to the West sector. But I think about it too much. I dwell a little too long on each decision.

Of course that wastes time. Then I start playing catch up, and my scan goes to hell. I get distracted trying to put out one potential fire, and miss another situation. A frequency switch. A traffic call. A point out. An aircraft that's unexpectedly changed direction. (All of these happened in the last session.)

And it's frustrating. There are times where I get up and want to go play some drums - hard. I'm just so annoyed. I know I can do it better, and I, well, just don't sometimes. I don't why. I'm trying to figure it out. I just hate that feeling when you get up and feel like you screwed up bad.

Everything about ATC is trust. The pilots trust you to get them where they're going and keep them out of harm's way. Your coworkers in the room around you rely on you to do your job well and not set them up with situations they need to fix. We're all supposed to be working as a team and when I don't do my part well enough, I feel like I let people down. That's the worst part of it for me: I don't like disappointing people who are relying on me.

So, I play some drums. Play some guitar. Chill out. And I get back in and hack away at the training again. Each time is better, not perfect, but edging towards that finish line. I know I'll get there. I've got my incentives in my family and friends and coworkers who are rooting for me, and my own desire to succeed at this most intense of careers.

I just look forward to the day I've mastered these sectors. And for the day I can sit down and not feel like a pitbull's been chewing at the seat of my pants.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your posts and I see alot of my self 25 years ago.

I know you are passionate over controlling and "saving" from your posts. Hopefully you will manage your frustration (s) and do not repeat the same things that have plagued the old shits.

Ask your dentist if you are showing signs of grinding your teeth. frustration usually shows it's self in dreams or while sleeping. (your journey has just begun). :)

For the other newbies, listen to the controllers and not the fools who sold out for money. Either you enjoy helping or your are part of the problem,

Papa Kilo, retired well before my high 3

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't be on landlines if you're busy, let your handoff do all that - pointouts, apreqs the whole nine yards. Use your overrides, bend their ear. Work from the ten mile ring out and let 'em wait on initial callup. Take care of the action you've already got.
Haven't done this stuff since '81 but, like an elephant....

Anonymous said...

[i]"When I sit down and it's slow, and then it gets busy, I'm having trouble ramping up my pace to match the traffic. It's like I over think things too much, and it slows me down."[/i]

I also had the same issues. My trainers got me through the ramping up problem by forcing me to work fast even when it was slow. And the over-thinking will go away with time as you move from seeing situations for the first time to saying "I've been here before and I know what to do".

Keep at it and don't forget to have fun. After all, it's only a few hundred lives in your hand :D


rosaire22 said...

Having worked 30 yrs. in ATC at 6 different facilities, all as a worker bee, I certainly feel your pain.

I spent 13 of those yrs at P31, and you describe E-AR just as it was from 1990 to 2003.

Good consistent habits including phraseology, along with prioritizing tasks even when it's slow, will bring you to the promised land.

Keep plugging Bud. You already have a major component to success. Your attitude...

Anonymous said...

Your issues are the same that most if not all trainees go through in the training process-- tehy exemplify why it takes years, not months, to successfully become a CPC. And certified, as you probably already know, isn't the end of your training. This is why we controllers laugh at management when they decree that training shall be completed within a certain timeframe, or when the FAA says they hired X amount of "controllers".

After 24 years. I feel I'm still learning and getting better....

Anonymous said...

My biggest problem is still tower awareness. I don't get near as tunnel-visioned as I used to, but every once in awhile I find myself ignoring the world around me as I go abouts fixing something.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels this way! I'm over at KNDZ learning to fly instruments in one of those Navy trainers. Looking forward to chatting with you next time I'm working CEW VORTAC!

LD said...

My primary instructor calls the moments where you need to start spooling up your speed, your "Spidey Sense". We're all working on it brudah.