In what both sides hope is the beginning of a long, beneficial relationship, AOPA staff members recently visited controllers at the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) to help them gain a better understanding of general aviation.
"Steve Kennedy, who oversees recurrent training for the controllers at Washington Center, contacted us about lending a hand," said Rob Hackman, AOPA's manager of technical services. "We jumped at the chance, because it gives us the opportunity to help controllers understand what's going on in the GA cockpit, and for them to help us understand why they might ask us to make certain maneuvers."
This first session allowed Hackman and AOPA Senior Technical Specialist Craig Brown to explain what AOPA is, what the association does, and whom it represents.
Some 40 controllers attended the training session, which was taped so it can be shared with all the controllers there.
Future sessions will include PowerPoint presentations of various GA aircraft and cockpit layouts, use of a flight simulator to demonstrate a GA pilot's perspective, and possibly even some orientation flights so the controllers can experience flight from the other side of the radio.