Air traffic control simulator
December 24, 2008 3:19 AM   Subscribe

Note: to fully simulate, you'll need to drag out your old '286 machine and clear enough (physical) desktop space to put strips of tape with the flights written on them.
posted by scblackman at 3:54 AM on December 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

Mania. I got three flights in and got overwhelmed with stress.
posted by knowles at 4:00 AM on December 24, 2008

I tried to quit but Ronald Reagan made me go back to work.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:40 AM on December 24, 2008 [18 favorites]

I just burned up more people than the ford pinto.
posted by dong_resin at 5:31 AM on December 24, 2008

Nothing to it. Too bad all the stress caused me to smoke an entire pack of smokes in a bout 10 minutes.
posted by Hachijuhachi at 5:44 AM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, that gave me a headache and I think I might have killed a couple hundred people.

Merry Christmas.
posted by kbanas at 5:52 AM on December 24, 2008

They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say - let 'em crash!
posted by kcds at 6:11 AM on December 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

Neat. I look forward to them adding DCA. There, if a Cessna gets too close you must order a military intercept or lose points following an evacuation and scuffed the paint on the White House.
posted by exogenous at 6:20 AM on December 24, 2008

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
posted by ShawnString at 6:53 AM on December 24, 2008 [11 favorites]

I got three flights in and got overwhelmed with stress.

These guys have hundreds of lives in their hands all shift long. Every shift. And - from what I hear - working with equipment not much more sophisticated than what we see here. That they don't go postal on a regular basis is a striking tribute to their professionalism.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:54 AM on December 24, 2008

I dated a guy who worked as an air traffic controller. I was always struck by how calm he was despite the long, bizarre hours and the stress. (Although, he made sure to get plenty of exercise and maintained a full social life as a counterbalance.) I don't imagine that tightly-wound folks last long at that job; they're probably quickly filtered out in training. Anyway, I can't play the game at work but I look forward to checking it out after the holidays. I'm sure I'll suck at it.
posted by desjardins at 7:15 AM on December 24, 2008

Oh, and I wonder how many ATCs are ex-military; the guy I mentioned above had been in the Navy during the first Gulf War, so he was used to a little bit of stress.
posted by desjardins at 7:17 AM on December 24, 2008

Wow, I can't even get one flight landed on the regular difficulty... I thought I had a good spacial head too...
posted by Inkoate at 7:29 AM on December 24, 2008

Clearly the answer to preventing future air disasters is a pause button.

Cool link, btw!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:41 AM on December 24, 2008

This isn't some kind of Amazon Mechanical Turk scam is it? Because if I find I've been landing flights at Heathrow and NOT earning a penny and a half each I'll be pissed.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:01 AM on December 24, 2008 [11 favorites]

If you enjoy this, let me suggest to you, in the following order:
  • atc, from the Unix bsdgames collection
  • Tracon and Tracon II, under DOSBOX
  • ATCSimulator 2, a little pricey but very worth it if you really enjoy this thing
  • (at one point, I installed vmware just to play it).
The original BSD atc game got me hooked on ATC sims years ago, and I've been seeking out new ones ever since.
posted by jammer at 8:24 AM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Anyone who tries that game is gonna suck at it off the bat - you don't just sit down and BAMN become an ATC. It can take a controller at a major facility YEARS to get checked off on a particular position.

Desjardins - quite a few ATC's are ex-military... but not from any rank and file. The vast majority of prior military ATC's were either ATC's while in the military or perhaps aviators.

I know this because I am/was one of them.

I've never seen air traffic control as entirely stressful, but then it does take a certain personality type to pull it off. To me ATC is simply a choreographed dance or play - all the participants know what to do, what they're supposed to say, and when to do it. It flows like a script over and over. It's when something or someone deviates from the script that you earn your living, and even then it's a matter of following the proper procedures you've learned and practiced over and over.

I've sat on positions that were hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror when I realized what I might have just done (but it pays to plan 3 steps ahead!!), and I've sat on positions where the work flow was so steady I just got into a groove and never realized that a couple of hours until my next break had just flashed by. Most ATC's thrive off of the challenge. Not that many actually see it as stressful WHILE their doing it.

Sure there can be extraordinary moments - but you find yourself surprisingly well prepared to handle them. Despite the sometimes crappy work schedule, the underfunded pay, the lack of personnel, and the outdated technology, it's still a cool job!

Oh - and the game is pretty cool too. If you're interested in something more challenging and in-depth, check out VATSim - a worldwide network of virtual controllers and pilots that basically do the exact same thing as real world ATC, except as a hobby. They take it VERY seriously.
posted by matty at 8:30 AM on December 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

I can't say enough about the quality and dedication of ATC I've interacted with.

There is some gripping audio from the Archie awards of "saves" by controllers, probably worth of a FPP itself.
posted by exogenous at 9:05 AM on December 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

4 landings, 2 handoffs, 37 seconds of violations
posted by garlic at 9:41 AM on December 24, 2008

This Ask made me want to try being an air traffic controller (Spatial reasoning? Calm? Okay with shift work? No college degree? I'm in!), and now I can practice!
posted by penduluum at 10:00 AM on December 24, 2008

Seconding VATSIM, but it doesn't really work if you have a life. I enjoyed it immensely about seven or eight years ago, but with a wife and kid now, my VATSIM days are over as that thing requires hours and hours of structured time.
posted by crapmatic at 10:07 AM on December 24, 2008

I am not smart enough for this game :(
posted by milarepa at 10:28 AM on December 24, 2008

Anyone have tips on issuing the landing command? I've got my planes at 2,000 ft., less than 60 degrees to the imaginary line extending from the runway, not past that imaginary line. I issue the command for that runway but only half the time do they actually start slowing down and landing. It's frustrating! I have people that are waiting to take off! :(
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:56 AM on December 24, 2008

Wait, the objective wasn't to crash as many as possible?
posted by UseyurBrain at 12:35 PM on December 24, 2008

(oh, I see... Each runway direction has it's own name.)
posted by cowbellemoo at 2:49 PM on December 24, 2008

I still run into problems getting them to land sometimes, even after noticing each side had it's own angle based name.
posted by garlic at 3:46 PM on December 24, 2008

My little brother is ATC, and since it's christmas I happen to be sitting in the same room as him.

I told him about the site and said that he could work while not at work!

He was unenthused.
posted by flaterik at 10:25 PM on December 24, 2008

Or you could get this for the DS!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:11 AM on December 25, 2008

Used to play this back in the day on my 520 ST. Was a lot of fun, I'll have to try this when I have more time.
posted by Snyder at 7:39 AM on December 25, 2008

Doesn't really work as a game for many, many obvious reasons, IMO; but still somewhat entertaining and quite enlightening. Thanks for posting this.

I just wish I could win something.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:31 PM on December 25, 2008

There is some gripping audio from the Archie awards of "saves" by controllers, probably worth of a FPP itself.

That's some awesome stuff right there, exogenous. Thanks for posting this, it's definitely FPP-worthy.

And if you're going to listen to only one of these clips, make it this one, probably describing this police chase that spilled onto Phoenix's taxiway.

"[...] without a clearance from me, he's definitely going to jail."

It's amusing to hear the happy diversion this provides to the pilots and ATC.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:21 PM on December 25, 2008

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