RTF Terminal Radar Course Day 1

The Heatles

Loving Life
Jun 15, 2008
Miami, FL
RTF day 1...

So today I moved across the street to the Carter-era RTF building. The powers that be were gracious enough to give me a bit of time to say goodbye to my friends from my tower class. I gave them all DVD-ROMs of all the photos we took while we were here.

I'm really bummed about a couple things, the first of which is being thrown back into training with no break in between. Everyone else in my class gets to move on to their facility (if at least for two weeks like my SoCal friends) and get familiarized with where they'll be working, while I'm still stuck here. I haven't set foot in a TRACON in over six months, and I would have loved the opportunity to at least monitor on-position a bit before being sent back here. But nope; here I am. At least I didn't have to pack and move.

The second thing is that, well, I miss my friends. I've never served in an armed force, but having gone through the tower course with these people I can understand the whole camaraderie thing. You know, where you all work together to succeed in a challenging environment and look after each other despite everyone coming from different walks of life for different reasons. There were of course some people that I was closer with than others, but overall I just miss that group of people. I couldn't have asked for a better group of friends / co-workers / classmates, and now they've all scattered to the farthest reaches of the country. Hopefully we'll run into each other someday.

Anyways, enough of that. On to the subject at hand....

Today's Lessons:

* Airspace
* Procedures / Letters of Agreement

The RTF class is a much more condensed class than the Tower course, and you are inundated with a lot of information right from the get-go. They waste no time in getting up to speed, so when you show up you'd better turn your brain to "sponge" mode. Unlike the Tower course, where there was a lot of "fluff" (such as the Tower Equipment, ASOS, and Tower Visibility courses), here it's all meat with zero gristle. Everything you are taught here matters and will be used in the labs.

Academy Approach Airspace

Coming directly from the Tower class, it's kind of cool to zoom out from the too-familiar world of Academy Airport and view the world 40 miles around it. The airspace is fairly simple, although there are a few "gotchas" built-in to make it interesting (more on those later). Some fun facts:

* 30 mile radius around AAC
* Two towered airports: AAC and Jeske Air Force Base
* Three main uncontrolled fields: Bartles, James (no joke), and Viney.
* All airports have an instrument approach: ILS, NDB, or GPS
* Two sectors: North, South
* Four arrival gates: NE, SE, SW, and NW
* Four departure gates: N, S, E, and W
* Extends from Surface to 12,000 MSL
* Bordered by Aero Center's Tulsa Low and Oklahoma City Low Sectors, as well as Springfield Approach to the northeast

Procedures / Letters of Agreement

AAC Approach's airspace naturally shares LOA's with Aero Center, Springfield, AAC Tower, and Jeske AFB. Most of these are pretty straightforward, such as the requirement that aircraft entering Springfield's airspace must be at 5000 or 7000 feet, or that when you're transferring aircraft to Aero Center they need to be 5 miles in trail. However, here are some of the internal rules that govern operations within AAC Approach's airspace:

* Shared Final: AAC has a single usable ILS, for Runway 28R. As it's the northern of the two parallel runways, it lies within the North sector's airspace. North therefore controls the sequence of aircraft into AAC and South is forced to coordinate with North for slots in the approach sequence.

For instance, let's say you're South and you've got AAL401 on a left downwind for 28R. You have to call North on the landline and request a slot. He will then respond to you with something akin to "Behind SWA237". So then you'll look out for SWA237 and maneuver your AAL401 in behind him.
* Internal Traffic: If you have an aircraft in your sector that's heading to an airfield in the other Academy sector, they need to be transferred to the other sector at 6000 feet and the transfer must occur outside of 15nm from AAC Airport but within 30nm.
* Noise Abatement: Aircraft departing from AAC Airport cannot be turned prior to the aircraft reaching 3000 feet.
* Jeske Tower Inbounds: Whenever there's an aircraft inbound to Jeske AFB, you have to call the tower and let them know the aircraft's position, call sign, and type. For instance:
o You: "Jeske tower, Academy South, Inbound."
o JKE: "Jeske tower"
o You: "One five miles northwest of Jeske, Viper17, F-16"

Those are a few of the rules we're having to work with. AAC is a pretty stripped down approach facility compared to those in the real world, but it seems to be pretty balanced in that it's relatively simple while still forcing you to think and act.

I'm looking forward to Monday, seeing what it brings.

I did not write this, this is pulled from a blog found over at THE FLYING PENGUIN This guy is in training with the FAA and constantly updates his blog with interesting stories. I highly recommend checking it out as he gives a great inside to the training world and daily happenings