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 something...you 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.
4 days ago