Maj. Dave Coover of the Omaha Composite Squadron and Brian Fabry before their flight.
Lt. Col. Dave Halperin
Public Affairs Officer
NEBRASKA – Brian Fabry, a manager at Omaha's Approach Control Facility, recently received an orientation flight courtesy of the Omaha Composite Squadron – the first, he hopes, of many for air traffic controllers working in the area.
The purpose of the flight was to allow Fabry to become more familiar with the local flying area, learn more about Civil Air Patrol’s mission and gain perspective on pilot workload.
After completing a normal preflight inspection of the squadron’s Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182T, Fabry and his pilot, Maj. Dave Coover, reviewed approach plates and briefed the flight. During the mission, Fabry set up and monitored approaches on the Garmin G1000 integrated flight instrument system. He also made the majority of the radio calls to air traffic control.
He said he “was surprised at how busy the cockpit gets," especially near larger airports. Approaches were flown at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield as well as the Fremont Municipal, Millard and Tekamah Municipal airports.
Afterward, Fabry said he “really gained a lot of perspective" on the pace of cockpit tasks.
One of the newest managers at the Omaha ATC facility, Fabry is always looking for ways to enhance job satisfaction and excitement among his controllers, and he’s investigating the feasibility of flying new controllers with CAP pilots as a part of a local area orientation.
“CAP's aircraft provide the perfect training platform because their advanced avionics closely mimic systems found in larger aircraft," he said.
Other potential orientation flight points of emphasis include airmanship, emergency procedures, local geography and instrument approaches.
Controllers are trained extensively on instrument procedures during their time at Federal Aviation Authority Academy in Oklahoma City center, but the syllabus includes no actual flights in an aircraft, Fabry noted.
"Controllers that have actually flown the instrument procedures for which they direct aircraft dozens of times each day obviously have a fuller perspective than those who haven't had that opportunity,” he said.
Finding a funding source for such orientation flights will be a challenge, but Fabry feels it’s definitely worth investigating.
He’s also glad to know the Omaha squadron is willing and eager to work with federal agencies like his. He plans to begin searching for ways to develop a working relationship right away.