AMIS South

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Bill South (not his real name) was actually Amos Othello South (his real name) at birth. Although the origin of that name would seem to be fertile ground, I’ve never asked Bill about it. I should. Anyway, he was known by Bill by his coworkers, although I frequently referred to him as AO Bill. Udate: Sadly, I won’t be able to ever check with him about that—Bill passed away in June 2011. I had talked with him on the phone a few months earlier, knew he wasn’t in the best of health and hadn’t been for some time, but his passing was a shock to me.

In ZJX we had a couple of sectors we referred to collectively as Ocean. They generally covered the north half and south half of a route (C1150—roughly corresponding to today's AR16) which ran from ILM, south over the Atlantic, to an imaginary point east of DAB, some 160 miles off shore. There it bounded ZMA’s airspace and the route was trafficked primarily by South Florida/North East US airline traffic.

It was also not uncommon to have sectors that were sometimes split and sometimes combined, depending on traffic. Ocean was one. Such a sector, when split, might be referred to as Ocean North and Ocean South, although in this particular case they were named separately, Azalea and Gateway, for intersections of those names on C1150 (approximately the location of today's METTA and SNABS, respectively).

Before our computer came on line, we had no automated sharing with the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), so we wrote extra strips for and manned a non-control position called AMIS (Aircraft Movement and Identification Service). I don’t recall now what circumstances prompted the manning of the AMIS position, but it wasn’t full time. In any event, periodically NORAD would call and ask for the identity of a target they were painting X number of miles south of CLB (just south of ILM) at such and such an altitude. The AMIS controller would glance at the radar to the shrimp boat for the call sign and then to the strip for the flight plan information and so inform NORAD.

Because it wasn’t involved in the actual control of traffic, controllers who were temporarily decertified (could be for many reasons, including sickness or temporary loss of medical certificate) and assigned to what we called F-Troop, would occasionally man the position, freeing up a certified body for a control position elsewhere.

Bill was in F-Troop for a time (car accident, I think) and while there he was an agenda item at a staff meeting (probably regarding his union activities—Bill was a national figure in PATCO). At the meeting, someone asked, “what are we going to do with Amos South?” Ingemar Joe Hinson, whom I charitably intimated earlier wasn’t the brightest bulb in the marquee, spoke up, “I didn’t even know it had been split off.”

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Last updated: 15 September 2012