Facility Selection

Nick Westfall

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Facility Selection
« on: April 25, 2022, 02:31:43 PM »
I just completed the online training and passed the S1 exam and now I need to select a facility. To be honest there is no one area that I'd rather be so my question is are there any areas that need people more than others. Honestly it's all the same to me I just want to be where I can be of the most use.

David Stone

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Re: Facility Selection
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2022, 11:01:34 AM »
Hi Nick! Welcome to the controller side of the scope. I admire your desire to be where you can best support the hobby and the network with little interest in personal pleasures. But when you get down to the brass tacks of it that is as important as anything else. What I mean by that is we want our controllers to enjoy this aspect of the hobby as much as they do flying on the network. And you will find that many things will play into that enjoyment, including where you choose to call home.
For starters, being a part of a community of people you like to hang out with. If you were into surfing you probably wouldn't have much fun sitting around on a park bench with a bunch of people playing chess, or vice versa. Finding a community that feels (in large part) the same about the hobby and how you approach it can make a real difference.
Then there are time zone differences. For example, if you live in the Pacific NW and join an ARTCC on the East coast you may find it hard to sync your schedule with trainers to further your ATC knowledge. Will there be others from your chosen facility who will be online to share in your experience at the times you will be available?
And of course there is the familiarity aspects, too. If you don't have any preferred areas you currently fly in that may not be a deal but if you tend to find yourself flying in certain areas because you have come to know it well, or just like the scenery, it can help learning those new procedures necessary to become a great controller.
I don't think any ARTCC would be sorry to see a new member who is committed to helping make the network better. The real task will be in finding that place that helps you enjoy what you are doing and helps you reach the level you are reaching for.
Best of luck in finding that perfect place. I hope you land in the right place.
David Stone
Air Traffic Manager
vZID ARTCC

Robert Shearman Jr

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Re: Facility Selection
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2022, 01:03:06 PM »
In general terms -- and this is just MY OWN observation; nothing meant pro or con against any specific facility:

If you consider where the biggest, busiest, most popular airports are in the US in real life (JFK, BOS, ATL, LAX, DFW, DEN, DCA, MIA, MCO, ORD, etcetera), those places are also big, busy, and popular on VATSIM.  (Of those, presently, I would contend that Chicago is the one which is a bit understaffed relative to the others right now, but again, that's just my perception based on what little attention I pay to who's online often and who isn't.)  So, one strategy might be to look at ARTCCs which do NOT host any of the "big ten" I mentioned above.

If you REALLY want to dig into it, each ARTCC publishes a Controller Roster, and you can look at each to see who has the largest number of controllers.  That might be a bit deceiving because different ARTCCs might have different guidelines for keeping active controllers on the roster and removing inactive ones.  Some ARTCCs also post stats on controller hours for a given month, year, or other period.  That, too, can be skewed for example if a facility has a ton of newer controllers racking up DEL, GND, and TWR hours but not as many on APP/DEP or CTR.

In short -- there's no easy, cut-and-dried answer.  But, those thoughts might give you an inkling on how to decide.  Best wishes and good luck!
Cheers,
-R.