Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Made Me Decide To Become An Air Traffic Controller?

Real passion.

Back in our preschool days, our teachers would always ask us to fill out this statement: When I grow up, I want to be a/an ________. Most kids would have these answers: a doctor, a police, a firefighter, a nurse, a lawyer, a pilot, an engineer, or a scientist. And I bet no kid in the world would have this answer: to be an air traffic controller.

Most people think that the job of an air traffic controller is to just wave the neon 'fan' to guide the plane to its designated parking bay. No, that's not the job of an ATC. There is more when you enter the realm of air traffic.

At The Beginning

When I was little, I am always fascinated with airplanes to the point that it became an obsession. I'd always wonder how and why that big, chunk of metal is capable of flying, like those birds and butterflies that I see in our garden everyday. We used to live near the airport, and the sound of a departing and arriving aircraft is music to my ears, even if it is more than 90 decibels. I would still remember that most of my toys were mostly airplanes and other airport vehicles. I didn't care if people will find me weird for just watching planes flying above me with a big smile on my face.

Air Traffic Service

I can still remember the first time I visited an aerodrome control tower. I was 12 and had no knowledge what air traffic control was. My uncle, who's an ATC, was kind enough to bring me there. That first visit sparked my interest in air traffic control. Eventually, it became my habit to listen to live ATC feeds on the internet. I may not understand a single thing about the transmissions between pilots and the ATC but I found it really interesting.


The dream of becoming an ATC slipped away after finishing high school. I was determined to pursue a career in the medical field; the reason why I took BS Biology in the first place. Besides, I also had interests in Microbiology, Geology, and Chemistry. In my final year in college, I got anxious about the medical school applications, scholarships, NMAT results, and a whole lot more. Every time I think about med school, I always get uneasy. I started to doubt myself, whether if I took the right path or not (don't get me wrong, I didn't regret of taking a non-aviation degree in college... I met awesome people along the way). After my college graduation, I decided to take a rest. Within that period, I traveled across the country and as well as to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Through my travels, I began to reevaluate my interests and passions in life. And I realized that my passion in aviation didn't fade at all. Back in college, I always find time to planespot with my friends who share the same passion and interest. I never get tired of talking about planes and other related stuff in aviation.

With some of my classmates!

The Big Move

Last May 2012, my uncle informed me that CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) will be conducting a competitive qualifying exam for the Comprehensive Air Traffic Service training. I immediately grabbed the opportunity and by July 2012, we traveled all the way to Cagayan de Oro just to take the exam. Passed the exam, medical exam, and the final interview and by October, I flew to Manila and attended the 10-month competitive training. It was indeed challenging because I'm going to live outside my comfort zone. The training challenged me both mentally and emotionally. There were times that I'd just slack off because my brain can no longer accept more information. But because of team work, determination, and perserverance, we survived. I still can't believe that I'd memorize the whole Manila, Clark and Subic TMA, approach plates, and the infamous Manila FIR. Indeed, nothing's impossible if you work hard. As for our batch, we're almost there... a new chapter of our lives will soon unfold in a few months.

The job of an ATC is harder than what people think. To ensure a safe, orderly, and expiditious flow of air traffic, controllers from three different control units namely aerodrome, approach, and area control, should coordinate properly with the departure clearances and time, sequencing of arrivals, releases, and restrictions. It is important that each and every controllers should copy every information correctly from both pilots and ATCs. A single mistake can be fatal. Try watching Air Crash Investigation, and you'll get my point.

RPMD Aerodrome Control Tower

Air Traffic Control is not just a job; it is a lifetime commitment. Thousands of lives depend on the controller's clearances and instructions, however, he will always feel great knowing that he delivered thousands of passengers safely to their families and to their homes after his shift.

Indeed, there is no room for mistakes in our crowded skies!




  1. Flaming passion! :) I've never heard of ATC at all. I probably seen one or two clips about it in movies . You're really living up to your fullest potential and I can't stop myself from admiring your enthusiasm in that field. Kudos to you for igniting that passion, Renz! Wooooh!

  2. good job, bro! hope to see you in NAIA, is it? :)

  3. Now I am more appreciative of what you guys are doing in the tower. Thanks for making us safe :)

  4. Regine: thanks Reg! But I can't wait to travel again. At least may sure pondo na ako pang travel plus the perks of working on your dream job. Hehe

    Lakbay: hahaha dili ko sa Manila kay dili ko hawd. Jk

    Oman: thanks for appreciating! :-)

  5. youre one of a kind a big fan of yours!!

  6. Woooow idol is a big word! Maraming salamat, anon!!!

  7. Hi renz! I admire your passion for aviation. Ask ko lng kung may plano bang lagyan ng parallel taxiway ang FBIA? Thanks!

  8. hello! what's the test all about? i'm planning to take it and i have absolutely no clue what i'll be reviewing for :))

  9. Hello RM, while searching the web on traffic controller stuffs I found this article of yours and I can relate about the detour thing. Lately ko lang napagisip isip kung ano talaga ang gusto ko and I want to do something about it habang bata pa ako :D an you give me tips since you're on that field already. As of the moment I doon't know how to get started. I just kept reading articles through the web. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks

    1. Air Traffic Control is a highly technical job. It ain't easy to become one, but once you become one of us, it's one of the best and coolest jobs in the world. :) Hehe

  10. Hello po. Just wanna ask kung kelan ulit ang exam nila and are there any academic requirements? Thank you!

  11. love the passion. <3 hope to be an ATC (just like you :p) in the near future. :) :D

  12. Extraordinary, ..good job for having it

  13. Good job! Is it available for ladies?

  14. Hi po! Id like to know if its ok that im not still licensed engr? As i read articles about ATC, it requires board passers, is it really needed? But i passed the civil service when i was in 3rd year college. Im confused about this. And when is the next exam? Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks! And btw, i admire you! That was really an interesting story of yours!

  15. Hi po! Id like to know if its ok that im not still licensed engr? As i read articles about ATC, it requires board passers, is it really needed? But i passed the civil service when i was in 3rd year college. Im confused about this. And when is the next exam? Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks! And btw, i admire you! That was really an interesting story of yours!

  16. Whoa! I remember you from the days when Multiply was still a thing. Biology to ATC was indeed a big move. But it's nice to know that travelers are in good hands. More travels!

  17. Wow, cool post. I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real hard work to make a great article... but I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though. Traffic Control Gold Coast

  18. Traffic control is one of the most responsibility filled job to do .If you are interested in learning traffic control then you can visit traffic control training ontario to get to know the things which you need to keep in mind while doing traffic control.


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