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Air Cops: A Personal History of Air Traffic Control
Format: PaperbackChange
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Billy Robbins tells it like it was, both in the Air Force and the CAA, the forerunner of the FAA. I to was an Air Traffic Controller under the CAA and FAA. This book brought back many memories, some bad but mostly fond ones. I was glad Billy mentioned the problems of using local times instead of Zulu. I entered the CAA at the New Orleans ARTCC. When we received an estimate from Jacksonville center the time was in eastern and the assistant controller that processed the strips in New Orleans for the controller had to convert to central time. Occasionally someone would forget to convert the time which sometime resulted in two aircraft trying to occupy the same airspace at the same time. After a good dressing down by the controller, you definately didn't make that mistake again. Any young person in or contemplating an aviation career should read this book. They would realize how far the industry has come in a relatively short period. From no radar or radios, just hand written "strips" and an antique rotary dial interphone. I enjoyed the humor, especially the tale of rigging the tower steps to alert the oontrollers if a superior was approachng. How Billy was quick on his toes and turned a possible disclipinary action into a commendation. A pleasant and compelling read.
Charles D. Richardson Author of The Pact and coming soon, Flying Machines
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Interesting book but lacks the in depth knowledge I was seeking. Details are too limited for an industry infant. For instance what and how change came about is hit too lightly. ( Not enough examples). Training details and their effect are stressed too lightly. The problem may be in what I am seeking. I cannot find a book that outlines how long training was, what problems had to be overcome, what adjustments had to be made in implementation, how long does it require to become a competent controller and what kind of individual profile was sought. It is a good start and a glimpse of a tough industry.
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Format: Paperback
This book tells the history of air traffic control through the amazing personal memoirs of veteran controller Billy D. Robbins. Starting with the author's recollection of a plane which crashed in a field near his boyhood home and influenced his career choice, this book opens the door to an occupation filled with unbelievable responsibility and stress mixed with moments of irony, insanity and hilarity. I felt like I was actually there, smelling the flames, laughing at the slang phraseology used by controllers & pilots, sobered by the crash of an airliner, relaxing with hobbies and antics of the off-duty controller. Along with the stories, Mr. Robbins supplies names, dates, places and events that create the timeline from the beginning of air traffic control into the near future, with his predictions of what is to soon come. I would highly recommend this entertaining and educating book for anyone who flies or is interested in flying or controlling those who do.
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on July 25, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Air Cops was an interesting read but it fell short regarding some easily confirmable facts. The 2 mistakes I can recall is in a transcript involving a Douglas DC-3. The author stated that DC stood for Douglas Cargo-3 when in fact DC means Douglas Commercial-3. The other factual error was regarding the Pan-Am/KLM crash at Tenerife. There are numerous articles, on and offline, that tell the story far more accurately than it is here. It was the KLM jet that took off, crashing into the Pan-Am jet as it was trying to clear the runway. Both jets were on the ground for hours before the crash occurred - they were both taxiing to the active runway for departure. Most importantly there were survivors.

When very easily confirmable facts are published incorrectly it puts an aura of uncertainty over the book. Still, it was an interesting read.
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on August 29, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
First chapter explains in detail the trials and errors encountered in early flying history, and how practices were changed over time, along with technological improvements, resulted in the near perfect system we have in use today. "Personal history" was a little lacking in suspense, but overall a worthwhile read.
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