AMA with Tyler Shelton #2

January, 21, 2021 by
Comments

Hello, everyone! My name is Tyler Shelton and I’m looking forward to today’s AMA where I get to answer your questions.

I am the Air Traffic Control Community Manager at Infinite Flight and also work full-time as an Air Traffic Controller in the FAA. I’ve been fortunate enough to hold both positions for 7 years. My time as an Air Traffic Controller began with 6 years in the United States Air Force stationed at Moody AFB, GA. This gave me the opportunity to deploy overseas twice, become an ATC Supervisor, and develop a unique perspective on ATC that I can integrate into Infinite Flight. In 2019 I began working as a civilian controller with the FAA assigned to Harrisburg International Airport [KMDT].

Like many of you, I love everything aviation and am always eager to learn more and share what knowledge I have with others! This is what drives me to be a part of our Infinite Flight and IFATC community each day. Ask me anything!

Ask a question

Tyler Shelton is the ATC Community Manager for Infinite Flight. He is also a real-world civilian air traffic controller with the FAA assigned to Harrisburg International Airport [KMDT].
97 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Founder
1 year ago

As the final questions come in I just wanted to thank you all for participating and asking such great questions. And thank you very much to Tyler for taking all the time out of his busy day to answer all of our questions! I think I speak for everyone when I say that that was a ton of fun and I enjoyed reading all the answers.

Anonymous
1 year ago

Hello! Tyler this is PilotA320 I have 1 question. 1. What was the most stressful time controlling on the expert server?

Aviation2929
1 year ago

Hey Tyler,
First off, you are the best.
Also, What Airport do you Control irl?

Thanks,
Aviation2929

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Aviation2929

Thanks so much for being here! I control at Harrisburg International Airport (KMDT) in Pennsylvania. 🙂

Evan L
1 year ago

Hey Tyler, as a real world pilot, the involvement of people like you with this game is what makes it stand alone among mobile sims, and I’m so happy for all you and IFATC do. My question is: on any given day, what are some common things pilots do that you wish they just wouldn’t? The more I learn about ATC (especially since working as a CFII), the more nuance I pick up and do things to make ATC lives easier, but I also wonder if my efforts are sometimes counterintuitive if the controller was planning for something else. Flight following, practice approaches, cancelling IFR, anything you can think of! I have all my students listen to the Opposing Bases podcast so I’m trying my best to raise a generation of pilots who aren’t afraid of the voice on the other side. Looking forward to any info and hopefully you can give me some vectors someday!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Evan L

Hello, Evan! I love this question and genuinely appreciate you trying to bridge the gap between pilots and controllers. I’ve had some really good experiences with students over the years nailing more complex aspects like reading their IFR clearance back and navigating airspaces, yet repeatedly find myself encountering this major annoyance that is arguably one of the most basic skills: communication

Many students tend to “keep secrets” and don’t convey exactly what they want or fail to ask for clarification when a non-standard or uncommon procedure is presented. Do you want a short approach? Let me know. I’ve had countless occasions where I begin departing traffic only to see the Cessna turning at the numbers resulting in a go around. Was the spacing maneuver (midfield crossing or 270 comes to mind) or sequence unclear? Let me know!

I believe students want to help by staying off the radio and there is an idea that asking for help or making what seems like an unnecessary request will get them barked at. 99% of controllers just want to know what the pilot wants so we can accommodate their request and provide a safe service. Phraseology can be tricky to learn early on so I always encourage pilots and controllers to resort to the most basic plain english when in doubt so there is zero room for interpretation or assumptions. Cheers!

Anonymous
1 year ago

Hey Tyler! What would be all the factors that go into implementing live voice commands into the ATC for IF?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

This would be a tough one! Infinite Flight’s goal has always been to remain accessible. Live voice ATC makes it difficult for non-english speakers, opens the door to abuse, and may even diminish the level of realism if non-standard phraseology is used. We don’t have plans to add this, but it would certainly be a huge undertaking if we decide to someday. Thanks for the question!

Zachary Friedman (Z-Tube)
1 year ago

Hey, Tyler!

If a new pilot flew through your airspace and made a mistake, how would you react? I’ve seen videos of uneasy controllers and that is a fear of mine

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago

Great question! Most controllers will always take an opportunity to educate pilots when needed. We hate issuing a phone number just as much as the pilot dislikes receiving it. In some cases there a complete negligence and the endangerment of others which we must report, but 9/10 we’ll try to clarify procedures on frequency to help pilots improve or avoid a similar scenario in the future. Controllers make mistakes too! As long as we communicate openly we’ll all continue to get better.

Zachary Friedman (Z-Tube)
1 year ago
Reply to  Tyler Shelton

I truly appreciate your response! That makes me feel less on edge. I can’t wait to get in the air, and if I have the opportunity, head down to Harrisburg from N07. It’d be great to be under your control!

Have a great night!

Mason P. (MJP_27
1 year ago

Hello Tyler! Hope you’re doing good!
2 questions:

  1. What is some advice that you would give to someone that wants to be an Air Traffic Controller in real life when they’re older.
  2. What’s your favorite airport to control at in Infinite Flight?
Tyler Shelton
1 year ago

Hey, Mason! Thanks for the questions. If someone is aspiring to be a controller later in life I’d strongly recommend they begin touring their local facilities. Listen to their stories about how they got hired, see what a typical day is like for them, make contacts, and get your name out there. Putting a face to the name on a resume goes a long ways! Besides, you can quickly figure out if the job is right for you after seeing a few facilities in action.

My favorite airport to control on Infinite Flight is San Diego. I think there is a bit of nostalgia since it’s an OG airport but I just love that single runway layout that can still accommodate any aircraft in the fleet.

Asher Z
1 year ago

Hey Tyler! Have you ever had to give a pilot “the number” over freq irl? If so, I’d love to hear the story(s)!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Asher Z

Hello, Asher! Unfortunately I have. The most notable ones I recall was an SR22 blazing through my airspace at 190kts that missed a departure by 200ft. He never once called me but I phoned the airport he landed at and made sure they issued a phone number. Talk about oblivious!

Another “fun” one was telling an aircraft on the upwind to expect 360s at midfield but he instead begin a 360 1/2 mile off the departure end with a Lear Jet on takeoff roll. Those things will certainly wake you up!

Joshua SMith
1 year ago

Hey Tyler,

One quick question, what was the most stressful time you had as an Air Traffic Controller?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Joshua SMith

Thanks for the question, Josh! The most stressful time for me so far has been when I working completely alone in the tower at KGYR with an extremely full pattern and the first arrival, a C172, went off the runway. Trying to juggle making emergency calls and cleaning up my airspace with a ton of holds was painfully difficult. I earned my paycheck that night!

Joshua SMith
1 year ago
Reply to  Tyler Shelton

Lol that seems stressful

Brandon
1 year ago

can you add rain

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Brandon

Rain would be an amazing feature. Let’s put those wipers to work!

Kyle0705
1 year ago

Hey Tyler, Thanks for answering some of the questions others have left below. It really is fascinating how you spend your ATC Career at MDT as well as contributing to the IFATC Community.

In recent months i have seen many promotions within the IFATC team. What do you take into consideration before promoting a controller to a higher rank like supervisor?

Also, do you think Clearance Delivery could/would be implemented into IF despite its complexity?

Thanks again,
Kyle

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Kyle0705

Thanks for the questions and kind words, Kyle! I’m super grateful to be working two dream jobs.

The biggest aspects I look for in our up and coming Supervisors is sustained excellence and trustworthiness. Once the Officer rank is achieved I begin looking for those who constantly lead by example, help others, exercise good judgement in their reports, and remain active within the team. For what it’s worth, you represent the perfect candidate for this role.

I do think Clearance Delivery will be implemented into Infinite Flight. The toughest part is adding all necessary functions on a global scale to provide adequate traffic management, route review, and more.

Dakota B. (Raze)
1 year ago

Hey Tyler! I just have one Main question for you here. How closely based on real-world aviation is our ATC side of the sim? In other words, are there any things that we diverge from with the FAA? If so, what are those, and is there any talk of remedying those differences?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago

Hello, Dakota! Thanks for the question. I’d say Infinite Flight is fairly close to the real deal and everything we add is backed up by a real world reference so that we aren’t making up phraseology, procedures, etc. That said, there are some advanced aspects irl that are missing like the application of wake turbulence separation, adjacent facility boundary separation, clearance delivery, and more. We are looking at adding more and more, though the goal is to remain accessible! It can take the fun out of things if you’ve gotta spend many many months learning how to operate ATC on a mobile device. Aspects like Clearance Delivery are highest on the list for ATC aspects that can be added!

Connor Kelly
1 year ago

Hi Tyler, CPT_Colorado here from the IFC, I was wondering on average what is the highest number of aircraft you control on a daily basis, and how often do you control in IF?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Connor Kelly

Hey, Connor! Thanks for the questions. I aim to control about once a month on Infinite Flight, though I always prioritize my work and flying first. Flying gives me an opportunity to check on the service, note feedback, and continuously make team improvements. Though I’m not seen, I often make visits using various accounts so that I can experience the same service received by anyone else!

The most aircraft I’ve ever had on frequency at once was 16 at KGYR. They were airborne and in or near the class Delta. Recognizing that this is far too much for a single person I had a few hold just outside the airspace for a moment to ensure it was safe for those in the pattern. Though it’s doable, there isn’t a reason to push the envelope and jeopardize other’s safety.

Tomjuul1996
1 year ago

Hey Tyler,
Not sure if you can answer this but at Harrisburg, what frequency do you operate? (Ground, tower, departure, etc.) And what is extended controlling? As I hear it mentioned for KTTD and KPDX since KTTD tower is closed? Wishing you the best of days!
-Tj

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tomjuul1996

Hello, TJ! While I haven’t heard of the term “extended controlling” but my assumption is that they’re able to provide TTD traffic with some level of service due to their close proximity. Things like weather, IFR clearances, and traffic advisories are fairly easy to accommodate since TTD’s airspace is likely absorbed by PDX when they close. As for Harrisburg, I’m not currently there due to COVID but once I’m back and certify I can be found on any of their frequencies. It’s an up/down (tower/radar) facility which means you work ground, local, clearance, or any of the radar sectors on any given day. Thanks for the questions!

LuminousNate
1 year ago

Hey Tyler!
One quick question. How are you able to balance your time of being a real world ATC controller and being an ATC Community Manager here on Infinite Flight?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  LuminousNate

This is something I’m still trying to perfect 8 years later. It’s not easy but you have to know when to step away and prioritize family and your own metal health. I typically work 7 days a week and days where I’m at my ATC day job can often be about 16 hour days. This requires a lot of breaks and just knowing when to step away and cut it short to take advantage of an opportunity to make dinner, go on a walk, hit the gym, or have a family outing! Thanks for the question, Nate!

Sashaz55
1 year ago

Hi Tyler!

Just two quick questions. If you could be a Controller at any airport in the world, but it had to be an extremely scenic airport. What would it be? Also, what’s the most interesting aircraft that you have controlled? Thanks for taking the time to answer!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Sashaz55

Hello, Sasha! If I could choose any airport I think I’d have to go with Nice. It’s such a cool airport, nice mix of traffic, beautiful views, and my ideal runway layout.

During my time at KGYR I had the opportunity to control many of the water bombers, special Lockheed aircraft, fighters, and many of the MAXs that came in for storage. I’d have to say the DC10 water bomber is up there in most interesting and special!

Mehdi Mabrouk
1 year ago

Hello Tyler,

awesome that you take your time to answer our questions!

How do you see the job as an ATC change in terms of digitalisation in the avaitons industry.
Do you think that computers will support more and more the duties as an ATC and if yes how?

And as we see for example Airbus developing systems for auto take-off and autonomous taxiing, what do you personally think about those things?

Thanks for taking you time!

Stay healthy and safe!

All the best
Mehdi

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Mehdi Mabrouk

Interesting questions, Mehdi! I do think we’ll see some technology integrated into the ATC system, specifically in the form of tools rather than complete automation. I believe the ability to predict weather, see traffic, scan airport blindspots, and relay data to pilots in lost comms situations will continue to improve but I’m not sure you’ll ever see computers doing our jobs. We train for many many years! As we all know, technology can fail. In this particular industry I think it has a more catastrophic consequence than others if it does fail.

As for Airbus, it’s really neat to see new things like that integrated! With the right training it can be useful, though I think there are very few things that replace a human with thousands of hours of experience, flight time, and basic intuition to aid in the decision making process.

Luca Caviness
1 year ago

Hi, Tyler! Thanks for taking your time to answer these questions today! What are three characteristics that you’d attribute to becoming a successful air traffic controller? What would your dream job look like (facility, location, etc.)? Where do you see Infinite Flight being in 5-10 years?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Luca Caviness

Hey, Luca! Awesome questions. I really think a calm, well-spoken, and assertive person often translates to a good controller. The ability to make quick and decisive decisions is critical. Being able to deliver it calmly and accurately puts you over the top!

Ultimately I’d love to find myself at CLT, BNA, DFW or MCO in a few years after getting some real radar experience under my belt. I’m happy where I am and along for the ride! Can’t rush things and miss out on the learning opportunities right where I am.

I really see Infinite Flight competing with PC sims in 5-10 years. With buildings and clouds on the horizon, it truly puts itself in a league where you can enjoy those top-tier features from the convenience of your mobile device for a fraction of the price! To think we’re not even 10 years old yet makes me believe there is a very bright future ahead.

Cheers, Luca!

Luca Caviness
1 year ago
Reply to  Tyler Shelton

Thanks for the thoughtful response! Very excited to see the advancements made in Infinite Flight and the growing community that comes with it.

Sam Greenberg
1 year ago

Hello Tyler!
I have a few questions.

First, when you are controlling in real life, do you always control a certain section of airspace?
Second, are certain types of frequencies or airports regarded as more senior?
Third, do you get any choice in picking your areas for ATC?
Fourth, what does a typical day in the life of Tyler look like?

Regards from a fellow Pennsylvanian,
Sam

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Greenberg

Hello from PA! Great questions.

Most radar facilities are divided by sectors. At ours in particular you can find yourself working a different one pretty regularly vs a bigger facility like NY Center where you may be certified on a single sector due to the size and complexity. This really varies by facility but I love MDT which offers more variety from a workday perspective!

There are certainly more senior facilities out there. While we all share similar knowledge, there is no debating that some of those airports truly earn that paycheck! They’re certainly the types of controllers you aspire to be.

You do get some choice in airports, though it’s ultimately up to agency need. In my case I was offered 54 airports… yes, FIFTY FOUR… which I had to rank from 1-54 in preferential order. I was lucky enough to get my #2 choice (MDT), though I’ve seen people get one near the bottom too. Purely where they need staffing!

A typical day begins with a weather briefing, reviewing any new procedures, and checking the duty schedule to see where you’re plugging in and when. Often times you work an hour on/hour off throughout your 8 hour shift. That time on break is spent studying, checking emails, completing training courses, or watching The Office in the breakroom 😉

Thanks for joining us today!

Anonymous
1 year ago

Hey Tyler! I want to be a pilot as well as an air traffic controller. Im thinking about doing ATC after college but i still need to be flying as being a pilot is my end goal. Would i be able to balance the FAA ATC workload and maybe be a corporate pilot or something similar all at the same time?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Hey there! Great questions. Based on the unpredictability of both career field’s schedules, I’d say you’d have a very difficult time doing both. We have a TON of controllers that fly on their days off but it’s strictly for pleasure. Perhaps it can work if your corporate employer has fixed times/routes, but it would be difficult! Good luck 🙂

Matt
Editor
1 year ago

Hey Tyler!

  1. What would you say is the most common mistake pilots make in terms of communicating on real world ATC frequencies?
  2. What’s a typical day on the job like?
  3. What’s the secret behind the ATC schedule?
Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt

Good questions, Matt!

  1. Funny enough, I think the most common mistake isn’t what they communicate but what they don’t. Pilots often forget ATC is a customer based service and it’s not going to inconvenience us by stating exactly what you need, the situation in the air, or your own personal limitations preventing you from complying with something I may think you have no problem doing. As they drilled into our brains early on… don’t keep secrets!
  2. A typical day begins with a weather briefing, reviewing any new procedures, and checking the duty schedule to see where you’re plugging in and when. Often times you work an hour on/hour off throughout your 8 hour shift. That time on break is spent studying, checking emails, completing training courses, or watching The Office in the breakroom 😉
  3. The secret for me is that no resource is off limits! I use route databases, FR24, FlightAware, spotting forums, and anything else I can find to discover unique routes and interesting combos.
Zhopkins
1 year ago

Hey Tyler!

  1. What is your favorite thing about being ATC in real life?
  2. What is the hardest thing that you have to deal with as ATC?
  3. What made you think of IFATC when you were helping set up ATC for IF?

Thanks.

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Zhopkins

Thanks for the questions!

  1. I really love the fact that no two shifts are the same! It’s easy to get in a rut when jobs are repetitive which often leads to complacency and boredom. You truly never know what’ll happen when you plug in!
  2. I think the hardest thing you have to deal with as ATC is finding a balance between request accommodation and operational needs. Often times pilots don’t see what we see and vice versa. Controllers do their absolute best to provide a good service and expeditious routing but still have requirements to satisfy with adjacent sectors, separation etc so you’re always finding that balance between the two.
  3. In the early years it was always referred to as Infinite Flight ATC but you can likely imagine it gets tiresome typing it out hundreds of times a day! Aviation has a way of abbreviating everything… Infinite Flight ATC (IFATC) couldn’t escape it!
Zhopkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Tyler Shelton

Awesome!

I’m going to look more into becoming ATC in real life. It sounds really cool.

Anonymous
1 year ago

Im not sure if we can request anything here but is taxiway naming in the works for use for taxi instructions?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Good one! We’ve actually experimented with this internally and the data does exist.That said, there would be a great deal of development left to really implement this effectively. It’s something I, and the rest of the team, would love to see!

Malachi
1 year ago

Im thinking about becoming an air traffic controller. Will I be able to atleast bid for certain stations after getting hired in the FAA?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Malachi

Great question! The FAA does give you a list to bid from which you’d place in preferential order (1-20). They do their best to get you something at the top but it’s fairly random based on agency needs. I suppose it’s all about making the most of wherever you end up and transferring out once eligible!

Ken
1 year ago

What is it like to be a real-world civilian ATC

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken

Thanks for the question, Ken! It’s quite rewarding and I genuinely look forward to going to work. I personally enjoy this more than military controlling because there are less extra duties outside of just controlling and I get more time to prioritize my family.

FlightGT
1 year ago

Hello Tyler!

  1. How’s the workload of a real life ATC?
  2. If you were to choose, would you rather control ground, tower or radar?
Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  FlightGT

Hello! I’ve always felt the workload of ATC is dependent on your abilities and confidence. Starting out it likely feels like you’re always drowning in tasks, calls on frequency, etc but you really do gain some confidence over time that makes the busiest scenarios feel like “just another day”!

I absolutely love controlling on local (tower) and would happily do that forever if I could.

JarrettFlies
1 year ago

Hey Tyler!

If you could be relocated full-time to any airport in the US, where would you go? I think KORD would be awesome to control.

additionally, being from Oshkosh, I know being an ATC at EAA is a pretty big deal! Do you see yourself controlling AirVenture in the future?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  JarrettFlies

Hey, Jarrett! Thanks for the question. My dream facility so far is either CLT, BNA, MCO, or DFW. The areas and facility are just a good work/home balance!

Oshkosh is high on my bucket list too. That would be such a unique opportunity and one that few controllers can likely say they’ve done! ROCK YOUR WINGS!!

United2
1 year ago

Is controlling IRL harder than IF? I assume it is.

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  United2

Indeed it is! I’d say the added pressure of real people in the equation really increases the level of difficulty sometimes. We’ve gone to great lengths to make Infinite Flight accessible to all. It might take the fun out of it if you had to know all the information you do irl!

Thanks for the question. 🙂

Aviator’s Hub YT
1 year ago

How and when did you begin your career with Infinite Flight?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago

Thanks for the questions. I discovered Infinite Flight like most others and stumbled upon it on the apps store back in 2012. Funny enough, I thought it was too hard and deleted it after I couldn’t complete the B747 landing challenge (iykyk)! Once I gave it a second chance I was hooked, became active and eventually joined beta. Someone said they were adding ATC to the app. I quickly volunteered to help, provide the right phraseology, and help create an interface that would mimic doing the real thing. You could say I sorta inherited the role once this released. I voluntarily ran and helped grow the ATC team on Infinite Flight for some time which eventually turned into a job in 2014 as it demanded more and more of my time.

CaptainZac
1 year ago

Hey Tyler!

  1. How did you discover infinite flight and how were you taken on as the ATC manager?
  2. how did you become a real life air traffic controller? What lead you to want it and what type of raining was needed?

Thanks!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  CaptainZac

Hello! Thanks for the questions. I discovered Infinite Flight like most others and stumbled upon it on the apps store. Funny enough, I thought it was too hard and deleted it after I couldn’t complete the B747 landing challenge (iykyk)! Once I gave it a second chance I was hooked, became active and eventually joined beta. Someone said they were adding ATC to the app. I quickly volunteered to help, provide the right phraseology, and help create an interface that would mimic doing the real thing. You could say I sorta inherited the role once this released. I voluntarily ran and helped grow the ATC team on Infinite Flight for some time which eventually turned into a job as it demanded more and more of my time.

I became a real air traffic controller through the United States Air Force. I had to attend an extremely difficult 6 month course then was off to my first base where I spent 1 year getting my certifications. It’s a longggg process!

Edivan
1 year ago

Hello there,

  1. What other tasks (like paperwork, monitoring traffic….) are part of the job alongside ATC?
  2. Do you think Infinite Flight helps to develop skills that can be useful for those who want to start a career in ATC?
Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Edivan

Hello, Edivan!

  1. While controllers mostly spend their shifts controlling, there is another aspect of the job that is fairly regular and that’s training. We have to complete many mandatory online computer courses, attend briefings, read new procedures, etc. This never stops!
  2. I absolutely think Infinite Flight can provide an extremely solid foundation for anyone entering the industry. While there is much more to learn, you’re already beginning your journey with an understanding of basic weather, patterns, aircraft identification, communication, airspace, and more. This is a huge advantage!
Nico
1 year ago

Hey Tyler!

  1. What is the task you like the most as IFATC Manager?
  2. What feature would you like to see in Infinite Flight in the future?
  3. In what areas of the work as IFATC Manager is the real life experience the most helpful one?

Thanks!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Nico

Thanks for the questions, Nico!

  1. I think one of the tasks I enjoy most as ATC Manager is being involved in various promotions, whether it’s running the test, attending, giving feedback, and delivering the news! It’s so cool to see people’s hard work pay off and watch their pure excitement doing something like ATC.
  2. The feature I’d love to see most on Infinite Flight is Clearance Delivery. Providing a great level of organization and flow into the airports around the world would add such a new layer of realism to the experience while also completing the ATC puzzle.
  3. I’d say the most helpful real life experience to date was my time in the military. The requirement to communicate tactfully, be decisive, and uphold some level of standards really helped me translate some of those qualities to the team. Without that I think I’d be a bit more timid and indecisive, neither of which are great qualities to lead a team with!
Rhys Vale
1 year ago

Hey Tyler! How’s it going?

What other airports did you want to control prior to being assigned Harrisburg? And what airports would you love to control in the future?

Thanks!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Rhys Vale

Hello, Rhys! I’m great. Thanks for your question!

Harrisburg (KMDT) was actually my top pick based on the facilities give to me to choose from. Very rarely is your first assignment a big or desirable airport. Like most jobs, you’ve got to start from the bottom! MDT was far from being a slow field, has a cool area, and seemed like a nice place to begin my FAA career. I really hope to control at KCLT, KBNA, or KDFW one day!

Chris Hoss
1 year ago

What would your advise be to someone who wants to get into ATC as a career

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Hoss

Hey, Chris! I’d say you should tour your local facilities, network, and find activities that will help build your overall aviation knowledge. While fun, plane spotting is absolutely a fantastic way to prepare! You’d be surprised how many new controllers don’t know the difference between a B737 and A320 before they’ve begun their training. Good luck!

Jason
1 year ago

Hello tyler, My question to you is how difficult is it to get a job as a controller

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason

Hey, Jason! It can be fairly difficult to get this job without experience, though there are many from all backgrounds who can be hired by the FAA (other agencies around the world too) with absolutely no experience. They’ll send you to their academy, teach you all the basics, and assign you your first facility! It can be done, it’s just far more competitive.

Luke Manchester
1 year ago

G’day Tyler, hope you’re well dude! 😉
How did you initially find & ultimately become involved within Infinite Flight//IFATC?

Catch up sometime, cheers!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago

Luke! Great to hear from you.

I actually got involved with Infinite Flight like any other community member. It’s true, we hire from within.

I was a beta tester and someone said they were adding ATC to the app. I quickly volunteered to help, provide the right phraseology, and help create an interface that would mimic doing the real thing. You could say I sorta inherited the role once this released. I voluntarily ran and helped grow the ATC team on Infinite Flight for some time which eventually turned into a job as it demanded more and more of my time.

Cheers!

Philippe Gilbert
1 year ago

Hey Tyler 🙂

  1. I’d like to know, how did IFATC orginally get founded? How did the team get as big as today?
  2. What’s the best tip you can give to someone like me who’s interested in becoming an ATC later on? I saw you were part of the Air Force, I’m part of the Canadian Air Cadets (CAC).
  3. How were you able to settle in Harrisburg when you got stationed there from the FAA? What I mean is that you probably had to leave your original hometown so I want to know how you handled that change.

Thank you!
Philippe

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago

Hey, Philippe!

  1. The IFATC team was organically created as we added the ATC feature into Infinite Flight. While it wasn’t labeled as “IFATC”, it began in a similar way with a written and practical test for many of the first members after beta. Our core team on initial release was made up of many of the beta testers who originally tested the feature. Over time the demand and interest from the community began to grow so we needed official recruiters, a better platform, causing the switch from Facebook to Slack, and written guidance which came in the form of short tutorials and eventually the manual.
  2. The best thing you can do in your current position is to tour local facilities and begin to network! Having those controllers know your name can go a long ways when it comes time to apply. Before leaving the Air Force I toured facilities like ATL, TPA, MCO, CLT, BNA and more. This gave me many people to call for tips and references!
  3. Settling into Harrisburg was no problem for me! I haven’t been back to my hometown of Tampa since 2009 so being on the move was the new norm. Once I got out of the Air Force in 2019 (stationed in Georgia), I relocated to Phoenix to work at KGYR for 10 months before being hired by the FAA and going back to the other side of the country.

Good luck, Philippe!

Pingu
1 year ago

Hey Tyler! As a real-world Air Traffic Controller, what initially inspired you to take on this career? Was it worth it?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Pingu

Admittedly, my initial inspiration for taking this career field was the fact that it was one of the few military jobs that that translates well to civilian life. It’s the same certification, great compensation/benefits, and just a blast to go to work every day. I haven’t had a single regret in the 8 years as a controller!

Fung Sum Sum
1 year ago

Have you ever handled an emergency landing in real life?

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Fung Sum Sum

Quite a few actually! I’ve handled A10 emergencies where there munitions were stuck, F16 malfunctions, C172 skidding off the runway, and a ton more. Thankfully the drill the appropriate reactions into us so much that the response becomes fairly routine!

Anonymous
1 year ago

Hello Tyler!

What would be a good starting point for someone to Join Aviation that didn’t study anything Aviation related at University?

Thanks.

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Great question! I didn’t study anything aviation related in college and it’s certainly not necessary. I was jazz performance music major. You can do this!

One of the best ways to get into it was through the military. I joined the USAF as a controller because it allowed me to acquire all of the knowledge and certifications paid for by them, all while receiving a steady paycheck and benefits. If you don’t want to go that route then most Air Traffic Agencies around the world regularly hire those without experience and they can teach you everything from the ground up.

Good luck!

Founder
1 year ago

Hello Tyler and thank you for coming to do this AMA!

  1. I know that the IFATC recently switched from Slack to Discord for team-wide communication. Was the move as smooth as you thought it would be? What advice would you give to others who are making a platform move like that?
  2. You’ve been making ATC Schedules for years. How do you still come up with original ideas for themes?

Thanks!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Kyle Boas

Thanks for having me again, Kyle! What a cool opportunity.

  1. I thought the move from Slack to Discord was incredibly smooth and it was thanks to many months of prep and organization beforehand. I performed tons of team audits to remove inactive members, had spreadsheets to track who was migrating while it was happening, and tested the new Discord channel extensively to ensure there were no holes in the permissions. Best advice: Take your time!!
  2. Keeping the schedule fresh is pretty tough actually! Selfishly, I often just choose what sounds most fun to me and it seems to be working out. Another common thing I do just to ensure I’m not overlooking an area is regularly browse on FR24 to discover unique routes or just find an airline that catches me eye and think, “Oh we haven’t flown with them in a while. Let’s do that!”

Cheers, Kyle!

Founder
1 year ago
Reply to  Tyler Shelton

No problem! Take your time is good advice and I have no idea how you do it with the schedules. Cheers!

Jack Taylor
1 year ago

Hello Tyler!

Thanks for doing this AMA, hope your well!

1st Question:

What do you enjoy the most about being an ATC Controller at KMDT?

2nd Question:

Where was your starting point in Aviation and how did you work your way up to become an ATC Controller at KMDT?

3rd Question:

I would love to work within the Aviation Industry, what would be your tips and advice to start at?

Thanks
Jack

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Taylor

Hello, Jack!

  1. One of my favorite things about KMDT is the diversity of traffic. We see commercial, cargo, GA, and military regularly, even with visits from the presidential fleet (B747, B757, etc) for touch and goes.
  2. I didn’t really have any interest in aviation when I first began. I studied jazz performance in college, then switched gears and went to the police academy, finally deciding to join the military. I reached the highest paying job/best transferring job once you get out of the military and ATC was it!
  3. Networking is the best possible thing you can do in this industry! Meet people, get contacts, and start building that pool of references. Often times it’s easier to get hired when they can put a face to the name on the resume in front of them!

Good luck! 🙂

Victor Ribeiro
1 year ago

Hello, Tyler Shelton! how’s going?

1) how do you manage your life with all that busy schedule as a ATC and the IFATC manager? Do you have a free time very often?
2) how do you guys came up with the IFATC idea? How was the creation?
3) how’s the experience of being a real life controller?

have an amazing time!
Victor

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Victor Ribeiro

Hello, Victor! Thanks for your questions.

  1. It’s an extremely hectic lifestyle with very little spare time, though I’ve always thrived on a bit of chaos. As long as I leave time for my family and a little for myself to go to the gym everyday I’m okay!
  2. IFATC really did start rather organically when we began adding some ATC commands to Infinite Flight and had a fairly limited interface for it. At the time, the biggest users of this new feature was the beta team since they had the most hands-on time. Naturally they actually became the start of “IFATC”, we communicated via a Facebook Messenger group, and had no written guidance yet. Things have evolved quite a bit over the years!
  3. Being a controller in real life is by far one of the most rewarding things. I love the job because you get the instant satisfaction of doing your job correctly. The spacing, sequences, efficiency and airport flow is a direct result of your actions! Cool stuff.
Antoine
1 year ago

Hey Tyler, how are you going ?

As an air traffic controller, what would be your advises for someone who would also like to become an ATCO (In Switzerland) ?

Thanks in advance for your answer and I wish you to have a pleasant day !

Cheers

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Antoine

Hello, Antoine! I’m great. Thanks for your question!

The best advice I can give for any aspiring controller is to tour a few facilities. While you may already know what you want to do, this was such an eye-opening opportunity for me to see what actually takes place, network with controllers, and hear first-hand from the ones who could someday hire me what I can do to be most competitive in the hiring pool Best of luck!

Alexandre
1 year ago

Hello Tyler, what’s up?

1) How did your ATC job changed with the current pandemic?
2) What is the most interesting airport to control in IF for you?
3) Any objective in mind for the future?

Thank you very much for your time, have a nice day!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  Alexandre

Thanks for the question! Unfortunately the pandemic resulted in me being sent home on excused leave in March 2020. I have not returned to MDT to resume my training since! No matter experience you hold or prior ratings, anytime you go to a new facility you are back in a training status. I hope to return soon to finish up my 4th facility certification!

The most interesting airport to control on Infinite Flight for me is San Diego (KSAN). It may just be a nostalgia thing as one of the OG airports, but I love single runways with a slight challenge!

My objective for the future is get certified at MDT and begin looking ahead to a transfer to a bigger facility like Charlotte.

LordWizrak
1 year ago

Hey Tyler,

I’m curious to know how being an ATC for civilian operations and one for Military Operations differ. If so, how, and how long does it take the adapt between the two?

Cheers!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  LordWizrak

Thankfully there wasn’t much of a transition period or new concepts to learn since the fundamental procedures remain the same. I’d say the biggest adjustment to be made was adapting to the speed at which things happen. I went from working F16s in the desert to GA. What a difference!

CrisYe
1 year ago

Hello Tyler!

As a real-world ATC controller and IFATC Manager, how do you manage your life, Infinite Flight and your job at KMDT?

And as I know, you had FAA ATC Lessons in early last year, how was it going?

Thanks for answering my questions!

Tyler Shelton
1 year ago
Reply to  CrisYe

Great question! It’s quite a lot to handle and takes some extremely careful planning. This involves most days being fully “booked” from the time I wake up until I finish the second job in the evening. Of course the most important thing is making time for family and prioritizing that above all else when you have the opportunity.

My training has been on hold since being sent home on excused leave from MDT in March 2020 due to Coronavirus. Unfortunately anyone in training was sent home to reduce the amount of personnel in the facility, regardless of ATC experience.