I did a longer tour/shadow at Lindbergh today. Ive gotten to know one of the controllers there pretty well. For now, I'll call him SS. He is a great guy and was nice enough to let me shadow him at work today for 2 hours. We grabbed lunch on the way to SCT, but unfortunately were told at the last minute we couldnt do an SCT tour. He knows a guy up at MYF though and we managed to get in there for about an hour.
I arrived at SAN around 10:15 this morning. We talked downstairs real quick and then headed up to the cab. He let me borrow a headset and get my own earpiece. After we got settled in, he showed my the computer they use. He quickly taught me how to do the run downs to Socal and how to track/droptrack VFR targets. I basically served as Local Assist for the 2 hours. Razz
The keyboard I was using was the stupidest thing I've ever seen. The keys were in alphabetical order from A-Z and surprisingly hard to push. I guess you would get used to, but for at least the first hour I was really struggling.
For the rundowns, you push the yellow button, enter their squawk code, and then hit enter. If there is any ammendments you would type in "AM 1" after the squawk code. If SS decided to assign a heading for spacing, you would add "H XXX" after the squawk code. XXX is whatever the heading is.
Its amazing how fast those guys can jump on a frequency and just take control, for lack of a better phrase. He was dealing with a constant stream of arrivals, departures, helicopters, VFR transitions, and even a couple VATSIM certified "tard pilots". All of this while talking to me, the other controllers in the cab, and making calls over to SCT and Center.
It is a really loose atmosphere in the tower also. The controllers will joke around with each other and carry on normal conversations when they're not talking to pilots. Conversations consist of what they had for breakfast, complaining about the FAA, what they want to have for lunch, and complaining about the FAA. All the controllers were joking about how they would have me talked out of the career by lunch time. Laughing
After about 2 hours on position, he did a quick briefing for the next controller and we were off to SCT. Unfortunately, they called on the way and said there wasn't anyone available for an escort. Securitry is REALLY strict there. Your license plate number, registration, and name is all needed before you even get to the gate.
Since SCT was out of the option for today, SS manage to get us into MYF for a tour which was nice. I fly out of there so It was great putting faces to the voices on the otherside of the radio.
All in all, I had a really great day. I might be able to get up to SCT next week depending on whether or not an escort is available. I am seriousily considering making a career out of ATC even with all the crap going on with the FAA. I do have a few years though until I can be hired so hopefully something that benefits everyone is in place by then.