I imagine air traffic controllers are pretty frustrated kind of people. Put yourself in their shoes, you spend a shift sitting in a tower looking out over a bunch of planes carrying people that are headed off on adventures, coming home from them , or carrying goods in support of that. The air traffic controller doesn’t get to partake in the adventure ever, they just direct the planes off into the sunset and help the next one in line to do the same.
Pilots are lucky enough to have someone who’s job it is to help them sort out and work through any mid-air problems that occur. Sure, while it’s not the controller’s fault that a bird flew into your engine they’ll do their best to clear whatever runway you want or make sure that help is on the way if you prefer the river route. When all is said and done the captain is often heralded for landed after hitting a bird, but who thanks the operational folks behind the scenes that made sure the landing environment or post landing process was well under way?
Even when things don’t go wrong, when I depart an aircraft I feel this urge to say thank you to the pilot if he’s standing in the cockpit area watching everyone leave because he didn’t kill us. In retrospect, I should probably be thanking him for following the instructions and thank the person who passed along those instructions on the radio for making sure that we didn’t crash into anything along the way and made it to the gate without too much hassle.
I wonder if there’s competition in the field to work with more complicated parts of the process. I imagine working at a small boring airport is just that, but I’m unsure if a particular controller position represents the height of a career or whatnot. Presumably no one really cares about ground control because you have windows to avoid hitting things, but I suspect the more airborn stages get more exciting; they at least have more at risk. I’m also left wondering how frequently the controller folks wish they were in the pilots shoes. Sending a plane off to Hawaii is one thing, but actually flying it there sounds like it would be a much more exciting experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d settle for being a passenger on the plane either.
Me, I’d settle for being a passenger once in a while.
Good night moon.