Touring the Air Traffic Control Tower

Robert Hong
Robert Hong

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Almost everyone has to take a flight somewhere nowadays. But do you realize how much effort goes into keeping you safe in the skies? Think of the air traffic controller's job as a traffic cop. Except the planes don't have brakes, and there are no stop lights in the sky.

Planes landing, planes taking off - it's a never ending cycle at the Honolulu International Airport. Robert Hong, Operations Manager for the Honolulu Control Facility, a division of the Federal Aviation Administration, says, "On an average day the controller will work 150-200 aircraft. Our facility alone does in excess of 1,000 aircraft a day."

It all happens in the control tower where workers have the responsibility of making sure none of the planes crash! They're watching radar screens. Each moving dot is a plane in the air.

Hong says, "My primary duty is to make sure everyone lands safely. We do that through checks and balances." The Honolulu Control Facility oversees over 1800 aircraft a day flying through the state.

The Honolulu International Airport is the busiest one in the state. Hong describes, "After lunch we have an afternoon push and sometimes the tower will take in an aircraft every 45 seconds. So it does get stressful."

Controllers say communication is key, and you can help out by turning off your cell phone when you travel! "Some cell phones can interfere with those communications so it is quite a big concern for us," warns Hong.

Now that you know more about the inner workings of the tower, sit back, relax, and enjoy your next flight.