LITH040: 7/26/05

BIRDS OF A FEATHER Today worked a C182 with a callsign close to my own. Sure enough, same year and model. We got to chatting on the freq, this is an Austin, TX based pilot/airplane. Looking forward to comparing notes.
HOLE CLOSING RUMOURS PT. 12 The on-again, off-again situation with this sector moving to another area is in the off-again mode. It may be a little difficult for yours truly to transfer to the new area The Hole would go to, then what happens to this site?
FLYING THE HOLE PT. 2 Yours truly got to actually fly through The Holes airspace again recently. Figures, the controller terminates my flight following, TWICE! Once westbound, once eastbound. Both times I was between Halls Crossing, UT and Monticello, UT in low radar areas.

LITH039: 5/2/05

SAD NEWS FROM FMN TOWER We at ZDV were sad to hear about the death of one of the controllers at Farmington Tower. Gil (ND) and his wife died in a car accident in the last week. We’ll miss hearing his voice over the landline.
FMN GETS A NEW GUY Heard a new voice over the landline as the tower picked up a new controller with the initials of CR, which are the real initials of yours truly, so he can’t be all that bad. I had a LakesAir go over today and say “welcome to the new swabbie” (Navy guy).
THE HOLE GETS A LITTLE QUIETER Sectors are moving around in anticipation of this Sixth Area (ya, uh huh) thing. In the interim, a sector from a different area was moved out recently, so it’s a little more like the good ol’ days in The Hole. Not as much yammering, and not as many strips printing out (and falling on the floor). Within a month or so, that sector will become the other low altitude sector from my area.
DON’T BE SO CHATTY Well, they’re monitoring and pulling tapes like crazy, you know, keeping some people busy and employed. Problem is, is they’re also critiquing! Takes all the fun out of “hangar flying” on freq. This too shall pass, and the sooner the better.

LITH038: Slip sliding away

SLIP SLIDING AWAY Ya, I know I’ve been slipping in my entries here. And soon “The Hole” will slide right out of my area. The latest rumor is October ’05! Once that happens I’ll no longer work hardly any GA airplanes as I’ll only work FL270 and above. Then again I could always transfer to the new area that works only FL260 to the ground, hmm. Enticing. “The Hole” has gotten pretty crowded anyway. We now on a regular basis have 3 sectors open besides 36 back there. And they are controllers from other areas, talk about feeling soiled.
YET ANOTHER ACRONYM, RVSM Probably one of the biggest changes ATC has seen in my 20 year career is “Reduced Vertical Seperation Minimum”, or RVSM. It allows us to run airplanes 1,000′ apart from FL290 to FL410 (prior we had to use 2,000′, a real drag). This didn’t affect “The Hole” much as we already had 1,000′ seperation anyway. It makes those higher altitude sectors more appealing, hence less time in The Hole for me lately.



LIFT037 8/12/04

END OF AN ERA Well, Scotty really called it quits. He’s retired and enjoying the good life, I’m sure we’ll hear from him from time to time. I hear pilots ask about him, that’s for sure.

NAVAJO NATION TAKE OVER AIRPORT In yet another “first”, had an odd situation recently. A Lifeguard flight took off from Chinle, AZ and told me there was something going on down there that I better warn other pilots of. The Navajo Nation Police Department was setting up cones on the runway and training officers on motorcycles and cars. This Lifeguard flight had to weave around the cones as they weren’t in any hurry to remove them, even though he was carrying sick Navajo Nation people! He said they were getting uncomfortably close to a lot of expensive iron down there, a Falcon, KingAirs, etc. This is a public airport apparently inside an Indian reservation, but this just didn’t sound right. Our supervisor called the airport manager and he confirmed that was what was going on, and was told to clear it out. A while later that Falcon departed, he said they were still at it, but got out of his way.

LITH036: 2/13/04

CATCHING UP: WHERE DO I BEGIN Got a subtle reminder from Joe at FMN Tower that it’s been too long since I posted here. He’s right, I’ve let you down and now must do the honorable thing. But instead of THAT, I’ll just post instead. As I wrote in November, these darn trainee’s are clogging up The Hole. No less than 3 radar trainee’s have been back there lately, puts a cramp on my time there.

TECHNOLOGY UPDATE Last year I wrote about URET, well, it’s here. The Hole will be the last sector to actually get the full benefit of it, but it’s coming. Here’s what it is: no more paper strips – instead a flat panel monitor has every airplane in or coming in to the sector. It also will tell you of possible aircraft or airspace conflictions. It has a ‘conflict probe’ to do this, it looks into the future with the known track and route, and figures in the wind and planned climbs and descents. Based on that it’ll give you a red, yellow, or blue (airspace) alert and show you graphically where the problem is. It also will suggest approved routings to particular airports, so you can get those earlier and maybe save some fuel by not making those drastic changes within 100 miles of your destination. This part is still a work in progress, as some of those routes are in error and will be fixed along the way. They say that this is the biggest change in ATC since flat lying screens and shrimpboats, or was it flags and wheelbarrows, I forget.

REIGN OF TERROR TO END Scotty is really going I guess. He’s counting the days to retirement. The Hole just won’t be the same, I see no suitable replacements in sight. But on the up side, MORE HOLE TIME FOR ME!

FMN CRASH GETS NATIONAL COVERAGE Imagine you’re a student pilot, you lose an engine, at night, and crash into a police station! And live! And for your troubles you get insulted on NBC by the Today Show’s Katie Couric. Well, it happened, and your faithful author gave Ms. Couric a piece of his mind, and then some. Not expecting a reply, was it the line “Read the news or sing a song and I may throw a dime in your cup, otherwise don’t overestimate the importance in the grand scheme of things of what you provide to the public.” ? Nah.