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An air traffic controller gave me a number to copy the other day. And it was a good thing.
I spent a little time this week on the phone with Mark Schad, who is a terminal area controller for the area surrounding Lambert-St.Louis International Airport. 13 million passengers went through the airport in 2004. Besides being the airport featured in Planes, Trains & Automobiles and a Seinfeld episode, it has 25 separately-charted approaches, including simultaneous close parallels. And that doesn't include all the satellite airports for which St. Louis approach provides approach and departure control. More than enough for any controller or pilot to shake a stick at.
Mark is also a pilot with enough ratings to have to get a separate bag for his logbook, and his perspective as both a provider and a customer of the air traffic control system is invaluable.
I called Mark at the control facility this week and we spent some time demystifying the men and women at the scopes and talking about what it's like at a workstation, how best to interact with a controller, what happens in an emergency, and lots of other good pilot talk. So, if you've copied your ATIS (and, for the love of Pete, copy your ATIS when you're in Mark's airspace!), let's go to the interview.