War story from an old air traffic control vet:

A controller is working at an old scope, laid horizontally with shrimp boats as target markers. There are assistants ("A men") standing around moving the boats to keep them over the appropriate targets. As a target leaves the sector, the boat is removed and the call sign that was written on it with a grease pencil is erased and replaced with a new one as a departure enters the sector. The radar is old broad band, so the targets are very large near the sensor (antenna) and get smaller as they move further away. When it gets busy and the New York airports are pumping 'em out, sometimes a single broad target will resolve itself into two or three separate airplanes. So the departure sectors could get extremely busy, identifying and separating airplanes.

This old vet is telling me a story about one of these "departure pushes" and explains how difficult it was to be busy when using shrimp boats. Controllers tend to become extremely focused when working busy pushes, and this time was no different. The old vet, "O", we will call him, finally gets up, rubbing the back of his neck. He tells the guy next to him that it was so strange, he kept feeling that his head was being pulled down into the scope throughout the push, it was the damnedest thing. The other guys laughs and says "that's cause the A men were using your tie to clean the boats!"





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