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Secrets From The Tower: An O'Hare Air Traffic Controller's Personal Stories of Life and Aviation [Kindle Edition]

Bob Richards
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99

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Book Description

Secrets from the Tower A Powerful, rare and original look into the important world of a Chicago O'Hare air traffic controller Secrets from the Tower is a terrific, thrilling, well-written, funny read, for its fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of an air traffic control tower, and will be enjoyable for anyone who's ever traveled by air. It's entertaining for its anecdotes, informative about air traffic, and also poignant, in terms of the life lessons the book delivers, and its tales of love and loss. Secrets from the Tower by Author Bob Richards gives the reader an inside look at the life of an air traffic controller at one of the world's busiest airports. Thousands of people travel via air every day and give little thought to what is happening behind the scenes. Secrets from the Tower brings the reader close personal to the action that. Bob Richards has written an exciting, captivating, and sometimes heart-breaking, true story of a fledgling air traffic controller becoming one of the most experienced in the industry. Secrets from the Tower details not only the fast-paced, high-pressure life of an air traffic controller but also how that lifestyle affects a man and his family. Secrets from the Tower is a must read for travelers, aviation buffs, and autobiography lovers alike. Secrets from the Tower is witty and heart-wrenching, fast-paced.
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Product Details

  • File Size: 1890 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ithaca Press (July 16, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,035 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
140 of 148 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thick As A Brick November 22, 2007
Given the number of glowing five-star reviews this book has drawn, I bought it thinking it would be a fascinating exposé of the US ATC system. After reading the book I went back and discovered that the vast majority of the highly positive reviews of this book are also the sole reviews written by those individuals: some of the reviewers admit to knowing and working with the author, rendering their judgment biased at best. In retrospect, I should have been substantially more wary of all the hype displayed in these reviews for what is a vanity press offering for all intents and purposes.

As a professional pilot who has flown into Chicago O'Hare many times, I really wanted to understand the inner workings of the tower. I was primed to hear the "secrets." In fact the only secret seemingly involved a plot to delay the aircraft of sports teams that were playing local Chicago teams, in an attempt to deny rival players sleep and alter the outcome of games. What is clearly not a secret is Bob Richards' unusual personality and behavior, which he attempts to spin as being a cut up, but which actually comes across as boorish immaturity that is neither endearing nor entertaining.

If you are interested in Air Traffic Control, this is not the book for you. This is an overly dramatized autobiography of an issue-laden controller; he is no doubt a very high-energy individual, but he seems to need to be the center of attention at all times. In the process he comes across as a manic narcissist who struggles with inner demons throughout his life. The key problem is that he presents himself as so self-absorbed that I just didn't care about him or any of the other characters in the book. He had a particularly difficult time relating to women.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting insights, but a tedious read November 16, 2007
I'm not a controller, I am a pilot, I grew up in Chicago a half decade before Richards, attended Catholic elementary and high schools, learned to fly at Palwaukee, and thus relate to Richards' Chicagoland and school experiences. (I don't know the author or anyone mentioned in the book.) The autobiographical part is, frankly, boring. It is a self-indulgent purging of internal demons and I found it not the least inspiring or even interesting. I read the book to learn about how ATC works at the Tower (as the book is promoted.) The bits of the book that focus on real incidents and how real situations in the Tower or TRACON are handled are interesting. At the end of the book, I found that I had learned a bit about life and situations in the Tower, but not enough. I also found that I couldn't care less about Richards' personal problems. I suppose if I were a personal friend or colleague of Richards, then that part might be interesting, and hence the comments from controllers who knew him. But otherwise, the personal story is not very interesting. It's worth a read if you fast forward to the anecdotes that occur while he's working in the Tower.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Self-serving December 2, 2007
I thought this book was a self-serving autobiographical sketch of a controller who had an ax to grind with the FAA, but lacked any depth or insight. Who cares about your personal problems, Calvin? Your promo said it would teach us something about the inner workings of one of the busiest ATC facilities in the country, but it was a self-promoting, and frankly boring review of some mildly amusing antics of adolescent boys. What a colossal disappointment.
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3.0 out of 5 stars too much personality - not enough factuality April 21, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wanted more of a factual state of the union of ATC procedures. I got some of that, but with a heavy dose of authors sense of humor and life events. No offense, but I found myself skipping thru most "stories" to get to the meat of the book. Funny stories, but too personal in my opinion. More ATC content to me would have been preferable.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should have been titled 'My Ego' December 11, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a retired Air Traffic Controller I find the book to be more about validation of Mr. Richards ego than anything else. While O'Hare without question has some very unique issues regarding runway alignments, there are a great many airports around the country whose unique setup challenges both controllers and pilots daily.
His discussion about his operational error seemed to have skipped a lot of information. During my career I worked by way from Trainee to Manager and in that process I was responsible for Quality Control as well as training. What Mr. Richards left out was what the repercussions were for him professionally following the incident. Having a 'deal' prompts a lot of administrative actions to insure the controller doesn't have a reoccurrence. While we all have empathy for those who had one Mr. Richards made it sound like a pity party for his error.
He also does a lot of condemning of people in management and misleads the uninformed on some things. He talks repeatedly about how horrible the rotating shift schedule is for controllers, and he is right. Where he goes wrong is that this is something self induced by the controllers. His description of the hours and time off is consistent with what is done throughout the country (though there are differing shifts such as a 5-1 instead of a 6-2 or 00--08 instead of a 11-07 shift). The reason is that people naturally want as much time off as possible. If you can get off from 7AM on your last day (Friday) and stay off until your 'Monday' at 3 or 4 PM you do a lot of shifts in a short period of time which is very hard on the body. But make no mistake, the FAA doesn't care who is in the Facility, only how many are in the facility.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
I hope to meet Calvin someday! As a first year controller I have so many things I can already relate too, from childhood, to this day. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ryan Nicklin
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 Thumbs Up !
Being A ground Employee At O'Hare Airport I listen to my Scanner all the time, Bob "Calvin" Richards gave me MORE insight to what the Tower was like. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Brett Steinbeck
5.0 out of 5 stars super good insider book
eye opening insider look at the world of the air traffic controller in one of the busiest airports in the world
Published 21 months ago by lza
Story is good and kept my attention. Very good insight as to what it takes to be a traffic controller. The author bares his soul in his novel. Recommend!
Published 23 months ago by Lea Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars MY SON THE AVIATOR
Published 23 months ago by Patricia A Cuddihee
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
learned a lot, mix of funny and dead serious. my wife was an USAF radar control center operator and SAGE inst so it gave some insight to her world at work.
Published on January 14, 2013 by HawkRadar
2.0 out of 5 stars Just Skimming the Surface
The topic of this book needs to be explored more often. Unfortunately this author doesn't explore the controller realm in any depth. Read more
Published on October 24, 2011 by Nicole V. Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight
I recall hearing about this book when it came out but forgot about it until I saw that the author was going to have a session at Oshkosh last month. Read more
Published on August 11, 2010 by bigfoot
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fascinating book!
I am an aspiring Air Traffic Controller. When I first heard about this book; I went right to the reviews; and shortly after bought my own copy. Read more
Published on November 13, 2008 by Darryl Flora
4.0 out of 5 stars Charles D. Richardson, aurhor, pilot, Air Traffic Controller (Ret.)
When I first started reading Richards book, I thought most of his controller stories were fantasy. I became a believer after seeing a photo of Richards with then president Bill... Read more
Published on October 17, 2008 by Charles D. Richardson
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