Meet Walter Strach
Center Weather Service Unit
Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center
Who I am:
I am an Airfield Safety Officer, also commonly know as an Airfield Operations
Officer, at a major international airfield. Airfield Operations Officers
perform patrols and inspections of the airfield and it's facilities to
evaluate the operating, safety and security conditions for aircraft and
their associated operations and requirements.
Other required duties include assisting the
air traffic control personnel in controlling and monitoring aircraft traffic
on the ground, securing facilities and performing other related and similar
Airfield Operations Officers also perform other
essential duties to include, but not limited to: -Inspecting airfield
and related facilities;
- Responding to airport emergencies;
- Enforcing airport rules and regulations;
- Enforcing state and federal rules and regulations;
- Preparing and submitting oral and written reports;
- Enforcing and monitoring airfield security;
- Enforcing Noise Abatement regulations (i.e.: ensuring that arriving
and departing aircraft do not unnecessarily disturb the surrounding communities);
- Other duties as required.
Airfield Operations Officers work rotating
8 to 10 hour shifts as the majority of Airfield Operations departments
operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Airfield Operations work also involves
a great amount of working with fire department, police department and
ambulance personnel as well as with the employees of airlines and other
aviation related agencies and organizations.
How I decided Upon And Prepared For This
Going back as far as high school, I have always had an interest in a career
in an aviation related field. Attending and graduating from the Army's
flight school (helicopters) along with having the good fortune of later
serving and working as the manager of a two major airfields helped me
make up my mind to pursue a career in the field of Aviation Operations.
In my particular case, my first job after flight
school include airfield operations responsibilities for a US Army airfield
in South Korea. Upon completion of that assignment and my return to the
United States, I later assumed responsibility as the military equivalent
of Airport Manager of the primary airfield at the US Army Aviation School.
A few years later, after getting out of the
military, I applied for and accepted a job at Miami International Airport
followed by my move to accept my present position in the Airfield Operations
section at San Francisco International Airport.
Other possible paths to a career in Airfield
- College studies in an Aviation or Aviation
- Internships, college and post college, in an Aviation Operations or
- Non-pilot Aviation Operations experience, in and out of the military;
- Employment in Aviation Operations or Airfield Operations at a smaller
Positives & Negatives:
Positive aspects of this career field:
- Personal and professional satisfaction of
a job well done in ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public;
- Personal and professional satisfaction of a job well done in ensuring
the safety and security of the aircraft and their associated industry;
- Job security as aviation is a growing career field;
- Working with an interesting, diverse work force population. Negative
- Rotating shift work;
- Many times blue collar job responsibilities with white collar job requirements;
- Responding to medical emergencies; - Requirement to work in adverse
Pre-high school, I participated in the Boy
Scouts. This helped spur my interest and prepare me in that my troop often
took field trips to neighboring airports as well as Air Force and Navy
airfields. Others I know participated in the Boy Scout Exploring program
as well as active participation in the Civil Air Patrol. I later participated
3 out of 4 years in my high school's Air Force Junior ROTC program.
As one of my hobbies is reading, I also read
many books on both civil and military aviation.
Be patient, be persistent and, if given the opportunity, accept any
and all work (even if it's volunteer/free) you can find as this often
time leads to job offers. Even if it doesn't, you'll have gained valuable
experience in this dynamic field, experience that just might be the deciding
difference between you and the next person when you apply for that job.
Who Influenced My Interests In My Career:
Three people stand out as having spurred my interests in both flying and
- My cousin, who later retired from the Army
at the rank of Colonel. He was a career Army pilot (helicopters and airplanes)
who served two (2) flying tours in Viet Nam and later worked at the Army
- A family friend who retired from the Air Force at the rank of Colonel.
Although not a pilot, he helped me see the infinite possibilities in this
- My high school Junior ROTC Lieutenant Colonel, who also spurred my interests
and never let me loose sight of my goals and aspirations.
How I Envision Myself In The Future, My
Plans And Goals:
I hope to eventual earn a promotion to a managerial position in Airfield
or Aviation Operations or Management. To this end, I intend to continue
working hard at my job, volunteering for the tough assignments and taking
advantage of any and all educational opportunities that will aid me in