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Brian Fisher: The Incredible Journey of an Air Traffic Controller

— FAA Order 7110.65 The Air Traffic Controllers Handbook ATC SERVICE —

a. The primary purpose of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system is to prevent a collision involving aircraft operating in the system.
b. In addition to its primary purpose, the ATC system also:
1. Provides a safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of air traffic.

From the moment Brian Fisher was born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio, his life was intertwined with airports. Growing up near Baltimore Washington International and Tipton airports in Maryland, he was constantly fascinated by the inner workings of mechanical objects, particularly cars and airplanes. “Hanging out at airports became my favorite pastime, and in 1968, I experienced the thrill of my first airplane ride,” Brian recalls.

As the years passed, his passion for aviation only grew stronger. While pursuing a BA in Economics, his final project focused on the controversial August 3, 1981, firing of nearly 13,000 FAA air traffic controllers for going on strike. Little did he know that this academic endeavor would pave the way for a career in this field.

In 1989, Brian successfully completed the test to become an air traffic controller, which earned him a spot at the prestigious FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. After graduating from the academy, he began his journey as an air traffic controller at the San Carlos Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) under the guidance of his trainer, Davi Howard, now SQL’s Airport Communications Specialist.

Over the course of his career, Brian traversed various Bay Area control towers, spending four years each at San Carlos, San Jose, and San Francisco ATCT. Eventually, he transitioned to the position of Operational Supervisor at Palo Alto ATCT before being promoted there to the Air Traffic Manager, where he spent nearly a decade. Currently, Brian proudly holds the position of Air Traffic Manager at San Francisco ATCT, bringing his total aviation experience to over 33 years on the vibrant San Francisco Peninsula. “Throughout my journey, I have cherished the opportunity to meet and work alongside many talented, diverse individuals. The aviation business has provided me with a fulfilling and exciting career, allowing me to delve into my lifelong passion while contributing to the smooth functioning of our skies,” Brian reflected.

“As I continue my career as the Air Traffic Manager at SFO ATCT, I am constantly reminded of the profound impact aviation has around the globe. I also appreciate the ongoing training the FAA provides to me and my colleagues to achieve the agency’s goal of maximizing safety and efficiency. This and the enduring camaraderie among aviation professionals contribute to my unwavering commitment. From a curious child to an experienced professional, I have been fortunate to play a part in the dynamic, ever-changing aviation environment,” he concluded.