Bright lights...




I've always been fascinated by Air Traffic Controllers. I can't imagine how they do what they do.

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I really love watching the planes land at Oakland International and San Francisco International Airports...but only in the 'bad' weather.

For landing at SFO I can watch them for several miles, as they are on their final approach. The planes land into the wind, which in bad weather, is from the south. The jets don't fly anywhere over my house, but I can see them in the darkness for miles.

For landing at OAK I can watch them for several miles, as they on their final approach, which is to the east, in bad weather.  Again, they don't fly over my house.

When a friend and I ride our bikes along the shoreline in near darkness and decent weather, we can watch up to 20 planes do the dance that the ATC want them to do.

I used to listen to them on the radio pictured below. That radio has been in our carriage house for years...and I think it still works! I learned ATC talk much quicker and better than 4 years of taking high school French.

Way, way back, a long time ago, when I was teaching flying, I also taught a class on the ground. That's call ground school. This was to help the students get through the written exam with 'flying' colors.

Student pilots needed to pass a test that showed the FAA (for gliders and single engine land planes) you had the knowledge of how planes flew (the basics), weather (a bit more complicated in sailplanes), how to speak 'airplane' language while talking on the radio, what parts made up the planes, and what the clouds were trying to tell you about where you needed to go.

Well before 9-11-2001, the class and I would be able to get into the tower @ OAK for the light planes and watch the controllers do their work. Once 9-11 happened, that field trip went bye-bye.

Watching these ATC folks direct these pilots to a safe and expected outcome (as in landing safely) is like huge puzzle in 3D format.

However, IMHO, going through the lines to check bags, sitting around waiting for passengers to offload, and getting the plane cleaned up, then filling up a plane with all of the passengers' 'stuff'..., I'm done with that.

Just over two years ago I realized that it wasn't worth the hassle to go to Maui for 3 weeks. I still needed to spend a bunch of bucks getting on an airplane, renting a car, filling up a refrig with stuff, renting snokeling gear, going on side trips, playing golf with strangers.

But it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate air traffic controllers. I do.

And I may see you in S Cal...at the beach...when the locals have claimed their land back and the tourists are outta there.

Live richly, marilyn

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