182’s ALL IN A ROW Had me a string of eastbound 182’s today. First one chose wisely and picked Alamosa, CO as his destination. There was a large line of thunderstorms from Denver south with Center Weather Advisories (CWA’s) and Convective Sigmets. The second one was going from Kingman, AZ to Jeffco Airport in the Denver area. After quite a few calls back and forth, he left for the next frequency and then he changed his destination to Alamosa as well. The next one sat out all the bad weather in Farmington, NM. She was going from Carlsbad, CA to Colorado Springs, CO. We spoke at great length about GPS’s and the weather. She’s a CFI in Carlsbad, very friendly. Continue reading →
IFR DEPARTURES There seems to be some confusion on departing IFR from an uncontrolled airport of from one with a VFR tower. In the absence of an IFR Departure Procedure or departure instructions from ATC, the pilot is responsible for his/her own terrain and obstruction clearance. Chapter 5 of the AIM gives the pilot discretion on joining the filed route or course. In other words, after you depart and you are cleared “as filed” it is at pilot’s discretion how he or she joins the filed route or course. Do you need to ask permission to turn to intercept your filed airway ? Absolutely not ! However, if you ask for that early turn you may not get it. ATC, is not supposed to vector below the minimum IFR altitude. It is entirely up to the pilot when the on course turn is made. Also, there is no requirement to actually cross the navaid. We have to put the navaid into our route of flight so the flight plan will process properly. Make Sense ? -Scotty (SW) Continue reading →
FUEL FOR THOUGHT The topic of aviation fuel came up on frequency Sunday, and of course it turned into a mini free-for-all. A Baron going from Las Vegas to Denver Centennial was going to make a stop in Farmington for gas. I warned him of their high prices but he felt their price compared to the $3+ Las Vegas charged was acceptable. A Stationair chimed in and said he paid $2.96 in Hawthorne, NV and it was self-serve! That’s pretty atrocious. Continue reading →
THERE ARE BETTER TERMS Today this EagleFlight took back his choice of words for his arrival at Durango. I’ve heard “arrive”, “on the ground”, and others, he picked “hit the ground”! I told him I prefer “land”, he agreed.
FIRE…BAD We’ve been working around Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR’s) since all these fires have broken out around Colorado. But it got a personal face, or voice, when a returning pilot (see the Twin Bonanza in “Free For All”) was going back to Durango as his house was in danger of burning down. We’ve been having to route all of our Denver jets around the Hayman Fire also, this in combination with weather has had a funneling effect close to that fire. Lots of fire tankers flying around as well, and we only see a fraction of them on radar.
I’VE LOST MY CHARTS AND CAN’T GET UP This was the second time I’d heard this in my career: a pilots charts fell to an area to where he couldn’t reach them. The last time it was a fighter jet that asked to go inverted to jar them loose. This time it was a Beech1900. Must’ve been alone with no autopilot.
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.
PILOTS, GO AWAY! Actually, the magazine I’ll refer to is “Pilot Getaways”. This is another fine publication I receive, and sometimes they show real out of the way places, some not even on charts. Well, sure enough I had someone head for Goulding’s Lodge, a fairly remote dirt strip near Navajo Mountain on the Utah/Arizona border. I had to ask if he’d heard about it through the magazine. Sure enough he did. He had flown over the spot before, but hadn’t landed (one way in, one way out, huge mountain in the way), this time he would. Since then I’ve talked to a few pilots about destinations in that magazine, more people get it than I thought. One was surprised we could read! Continue reading →
HOLE REGULARS MAKE THE BIG TIME Mesa Airlines Pilot Development (MAPD) program is based at Farmington, we work their Bonanzas and Barons constantly. In the latest issue of Plane&Pilot Magazine lo’ and behold there’s a color picture of one of the planes we work. Keep in mind, all we see are little green slashes for an airplane, for an airplane buff like me it’s kind of cool to actually see what we work. I’ve been razzing the pilots of these planes lately over their new celebrity status. Of course when I do others on freq jump right in. Continue reading →
MR. ROBOTO Lately I’ve been spending an unnatural amount of time with YZ in The Hole while he trains CW, the geographically challenged trainee. It’s not as though he doesn’t know the four-state area, he does, it’s just not the four states under his jurisdiction, but I digress. We both got a laugh and wonder why so many pilots talk like robots on freq. They can’t possibly talk this way in real life, not to say working this sector is not real life, well, maybe it’s not. Continue reading →
FRIENDS OF THE HOLE There’s about 60 people in my area, The Hole is mostly worked by 2 people. There’s the southern sounding guy, Scotty, and the Southern California guy, me, FO. Between the hours of 7am-9pm MST/MDT, you’ll probably find one of us there. We both are pilots and enjoy dealing with our kind back there. People maneuver to avoid The Hole, we maneuver to get in The Hole. Quite often people maneuver themselves out of The Hole just so I can get in it. There is a handful of other people that don’t mind The Hole, but probably wouldn’t go out of their way to work it. Some hate it just because it’s off by itself and not part of the main control room. Some hate it because they don’t want to deal with the complexities of its design. Some just don’t speak the same language as a large portion of the traffic back there. But all work it, sooner or later. I just do more than most. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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