December 22, 2017
Meet Cole Hobson: From the newsroom to the control tower
Cole Hobson had an interesting path to his career in air traffic control. Below is his story.
How did you find out about the job?
I was a journalist for the Times & Transcript, a daily newspaper in Moncton. In October 2015, my editor told me he wanted a story about the fact that NAV CANADA was making a big push in the region to hire more air traffic controllers and flight service specialists. One of NAV CANADA’s Area Control Centres (ACC) is located in Riverview, just across the Petitcodiac River from Moncton.
It seemed like a fairly routine assignment and it didn’t really register as overly interesting until my editor told me about the great jobs available at NAV CANADA, with fantastic pay and great benefits. He was surprised that there weren’t people lining out the door to apply, but also acknowledged the long and demanding training requirements, and the fact that it is not a job that everyone can do. However he did think that it would be something I would be good at.
That last part stuck with me. Despite the challenges of working in what could be called a dying newsprint industry, my career as a journalist was one that I enjoyed. I had never contemplated leaving or seriously considered another job.
What did you know about Air Traffic Control?
Embarrassingly, I was one of those who when I heard the term “air traffic control” immediately thought of the people on airport ramps with the wands. My aviation knowledge was virtually non-existent. Suffice it to say, air traffic control was never – pardon the pun – on my radar, until the day I walked into the Moncton ACC.
Once there, I was greeted by Wayne Nyman, General Manager of the Moncton Flight Information Region. I had a great chat with Wayne as he explained what goes on at the ACC and the crucial role that the entire team there plays in keeping the skies safe. I was blown away by the expertise and proficiency of those who work in the building and how such a non-descript place could be home to such a bustling and important operation.
I also got the opportunity to interview other managers, controllers and even students at the ACC. I was struck by how everyone raved about how much they loved their job and work environment.
How did you decide to apply?
My interest was piqued as I left the ACC that day. I ended up writing a story about NAV CANADA’s hiring push and in the meantime I started researching more about the Company and the profession for my own personal interest.
A few weeks later, I visited NAV CANADA’s recruitment website takecharge.navcanada.ca and started the application process.
Finally in May 2017, after many months of studying and training, I became a licensed air traffic controller at Fredericton Tower.
I am extremely grateful that story assignment ended up on my desk. In an interesting turn of fate, the students I interviewed during that first trip to the ACC were Shannon Cochrane and Joshua Armstrong, who would subsequently become my colleagues at Fredericton Tower, temporary roommates during my training, and now people I consider very good friends.
Air traffic controllers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and many have stories much more compelling than mine. But I suppose it is interesting how I ended up, almost completely unexpectedly, landing in a new career that I now love even more than journalism.