What is the Most Difficult Place to Work as an Air Traffic Controller?


Reader Submission:

Hey there guys. I’m not an ATC’er, I’m just a fan. Your site is hilarious. I was wondering, what is the most difficult place to be ATC at? Are towers harder than the dark rooms? Anyway, keep the memes coming. You all are spot on with the comedy.


Natalie from London.

Dear Natalie,
Any chance you’re from the dodgy end of Wandsworth? The “Whats the hardest facility” question is one that has plagued ATC since the days of Archie League. I can’t speak for Europe, but I’d say Heathrow has to be pretty legit. As for ATC in the United States, there are only three real options. The first is Grant County Center, located in sunny Moses Lake Washington. A new hire assigned there can expect a ten year training plan. The complexity is rivaled only by the sheer volume. Have you ever seen two dozen Cessna Skyhawks descend upon an airport like a pack of hungry wolves? Well, that’s what the superstars there have to deal with on an hourly basis.

Next is El Paso, Texas (ELP). Not only is El Paso a vibrant city with a phenomenal dance scene, it’s also home to the El Paso VOR. Every United Airlines flight that originates west of the Colorado River, is routed over the El Paso VOR. Owning from the surface up to FL230, El Paso ATCT is an “Up/Down” facility that boasts a state of the art control tower and a legendary TRACON known simply as “The Common IFR room”. The TRACON is home to so many talented controllers, the powers that be decided to “Tear off” a large chunk of Albuquerque Center’s Airspace, and gave it to El Paso to work. They figured better handling would result. Finally we come to what I personally believe is the most stressful ATC in the U.S. of A;

The Islip area of New York TRACON. They say that the hardest time a prison inmate does is in solitary confinement. You have time to think about what you’ve done to end up there. That means the controllers working Islip have it harder than the guys at Rikers. I can’t even begin to imagine the hell that they must live on a daily basis. On the bright side, they make level 12 pay for level 5 traffic. I hope that I answered your question. Keep em coming.



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