Air traffic control students get live training -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Air traffic control students get live training

 By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Two students enrolled in an aviation program are the first to gain the hands-on experience in a local air traffic control tower.

It's a dream Jennifer Pierce never realized she had until she enrolled in the Advanced Air Traffic Control program at Valdosta Technical College.

"I never thought in a million years I'd be an air traffic controller but I am and I love it," said student Jennifer Pierce.

Pierce is the first student in this program to get on the job training in an air traffic control tower. 

"There's all kinds of separation rules you know, you have to know that you can't just launch an airplane right behind the other," said Pierce.  

Jeremy Stout was training today in flight data which coordinates with other air traffic control facilities including Moody Air Force Base.

"We just figure out what planes are going to do coming into our air space, and what they need to do as they're leaving," said student Jeremy Stout.

Before working in the tower, a written test had to be passed which covered rules, regulations, phraseology, basically all about air traffic control.

After practicing on a simulator students have the opportunity to take their skills to a live air traffic control tower at the Valdosta Regional Airport.

Simulators are used throughout the program which teach students how to handle large amounts of traffic that often come through large airports.

"There's a real need for air traffic controllers not only in air traffic field, not only in the tower option, but also in the approach control and radar option in the center," Al Nagy, Director of Training and Aviation for Advanced Air Traffic Control program.

Near completion of the program, the Federal Aviation Administration observes and tests students on what they've learned.

The goal is to earn a Control Operator Certificate which opens the door to thousands of jobs.

No prior knowledge of aviation is needed to begin the program.

According to the Air Traffic Control program, 17,000 jobs in this field will be available over the next 10 years.

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