LITH001: Welcome to Life In The Hole

BACKGROUND “The Hole” is an area of my Air Traffic Contol facility. Its a sector that is usually the only one open, in a dark, cool, empty space, hence the name. I work this sector quite a bit and a day doesn’t go by that something funny or interesting doesn’t happen. I plan to use this blog to document some of these stories, I hope you find it interesting.

GOAL To enlighten, educate, and entertain on the interesting world of Air Traffic Control through one persons eyes.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? I like to write. I like to meet new people, see new things, learn new skills. This is a ‘blog’, short for ‘weblog’. It’s sort of an online journal, or diary, if you will, as it were, so to speak (LB).operating initials) to give credit where credit is due, or to help the stories along. You’re only as good as the people around you, or in the case of this career, as cutting, witty, cynical, sarcastic, or funny. By doing this I’ll learn something about this new blog technology and web design. I’ll also hopefully improve my writing ability – there’s plenty of creativity and imagination, just lousy grammar and vocabulary, get used to it. I never claimed to be smart, just a smart-ass. I make new friends on the frequency almost daily, may not always know each others names, but it makes the job as me as a controller and the person I’m talking to as the pilot a little easier and enjoyable to do. I’ve got a lot of years left in this career, I don’t want to get bored or tired of it.

WHO IS FO? Well, that’s me, Chris. Controllers use operating initials, which are not always their real life initials. People have different reasons for using different initials: what rolls of the tongue quickly, personal meaning, etc. I’ll often refer to other controllers by these initials, or by nicknames, or by their first name if they don’t mind. The point isn’t so much who or where we are, its the stories and experiences. I’m a 17 year ATCS (Air Traffic Control Specialist) and a Commercially licensed pilot with an Instrument Rating. I like working “The Hole” as it’s full of private pilots like myself, and we communicate well, most of the time. It’s those times we don’t that make for some of the stories you’ll read about. I’m a Scorpio and like dark chocolate, formerly known as the “Candy Man” in my previous facility, and it had nothing to do with my sweet tooth. Enough with the formalities, if you really care much more about me, you’ll learn about it as we go along.

WHERE IS THE HOLE? Geographically, it’s a piece of airspace (sector) that covers four states in the southwestern U.S. It’s centered on the Four Corners (common point of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico) area. It’s in Denver Center, it goes from the surface to 26,000′ above sea level (FL260). From west to east its basically from the Grand Canyon to Alamosa, Colorado – and north to south from Telluride, Colorado to Gallup, New Mexico. The frequencies used are 127.55Mhz and 118.57Mhz from west to east respectively. The actual sector numbers are 36 and 68. It backs up to Los Angeles Center (ZCL), Salt Lake City Center (ZCU), and Albuquerque Center(ZCA), and has Farmington Tower’s(FMN-Four Corners Regional Airport) airspace within it. We also deal with Prescott, Cedar City, Albuquerque, and Denver Automated Flight Service Stations (AFSS). Most of the traffic is arrivals and departures from Farmington, NM , Durango, CO, Cortez, CO, and Page, AZ. It works multiple military aerial refueling (AR) tracks, and military training routes (MTR’s). There is also Lifeguard/Air Ambulance flights, and training aircraft. Mix in aircraft overflying the area and numerous VFR (Visual Flight Rules) aircraft and there you have it. Some of the natural wonders within it are Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, and Shiprock. Other navigational aids (NAVAIDS) and points of interest include: Tuba City, AZ (TBC), Dove Creek, CO (DVC), Kayenta, AZ, Chinle, AZ, Blanding, UT, Durango-Silverton Railroad, Halls Crossing/Bullfrog Basin, UT, Pagosa Springs, CO, and The Rocky Mountains. Quite a diverse piece of land and airspace, if you’re in the area say Hi to FO!

Life In The Hole (LITH) is based on real-life Air Traffic Control (ATC) stories from pilot and controller Chris Rodriguez (unless otherwise noted) of Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC).  The comments and opinions are only of the authors and do not reflect the opinions or positions of any other company or organization.

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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