Did I mention that the WHP ATCT is a CONTRACT TOWER
I believe it's owned and administered by this company
I'm sorry if there are any contract controllers here that take offense to this... I'm sure that like anything else there are exceptions to the trend with some awesome contract controllers and some terrible FAA controllers. I have visited a local contract tower and it was pretty hit or miss, with some awesome controllers and some less stellar controllers (and one total lunatic
). Pretty much everyone there had been hired straight from ATC in the military, with a few retired FAA guys. One particular gentleman I spoke to (the lunatic, who played a game of 20 questions with me while shining the lost comm light gun in my face lol) had all his prior experience in the US Navy in the TRACON environment of a Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) on an aircraft carrier underway at sea.
While these folks are certainly competent and have significant on the job experience, I could see the transition to civilian towers being difficult... and if said controller has spent their previous professional career talking to highly trained professional Naval Aviators all day in a very disciplined and structured flying environment, one could begin to see why they may lack empathy for some Joe Blow weekend warrior GA pilot who doesn't quite have it together in the cockpit.
Lower pay and/or worse working conditions from their FAA counterparts may also play a contributing factor depending on the company they work for - as has been previously discussed all over the net about the decline in the level of service from FSS briefers since they were contracted out to Lockheed. Like many testimonials I've read from other pilots, I've switched to mostly self-briefing with DUAT since being yelled at a couple of times for no reason by briefers who were clearly not having a good day. At the very least I say "Please prompt me for the required information as you need it."
I'm trying my best not to over-generalize that all contract towers are inferior simply based on my own first impressions of one facility, but I think it is something worth considering as a contributing factor to this particular incident.