Note: In Pod Eighteen, Grammy and Eli talk about love. Grammy reads a poem about love, and then our co-hosts bring Grammy’s husband, Steve, on to talk about Steve’s work as an air traffic controller at Bradley International Airport. Today’s activity is to watch the sky to see what planes are flying over your heads, and to search on Google for the aircraft Steve describes to see what they look like! Click here to start at the beginning of the Poem Pod series.
Grammy: Hi everyone, I’m here with Eli! I will not call him Poem Pod Boy, but we are bringing you Poem Pods.
Eli: Fun poems for fun people.
Grammy: We are not smiling as broadly under our masks today because we are sad that there are only three more Poem Pods! Waaaaah. Waaaah.
Eli: Maybe we should keep doing this as a weekly show, about writing, for writers—adults and children?
Grammy: Well, if people asked us that, we could sure think about it. Couldn’t we, Eli? Let us know if you all want more! Eli, one of the things that inspires me to write pieces of all kinds—poems, blogs, and books—is love.
Eli: Grammy. Seriously?
Grammy: Yes, love is very important! We can love our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends. And when we get older, we tend to find another big person to love—whoever is a good fit for us.
Eli: Okay then. Whatever.
Grammy: Just saying. The big person I love is Big Steve. Right?
Eli: Yes, and Steve is awesome. I like Steve.
Grammy: I like Steve, too. We’re going to bring Steve on the show today, precisely because he’s cool.
Eli: He also has a very interesting job.
Grammy: Exactly. That’s part of what makes him cool and why we’re going to have him on the Poem Pod show. First, though, Eli, you must suffer through my poem about love. I wrote it for mommy when she was a teenager, and I think it’s sweet.
Eli: Can I cover my ears?
Grammy: No. It’s very good for you to hear another perspective.
Eli: I know. Just kidding. I’ll listen.
Grammy: What do you think the title of the poem is?
Eli: Let me guess: “Love”?
Grammy: Exactly. Here’s the poem!
Love is a feeling that can’t be beat.
Love warms your cheeks; you can feel the heat.
First love is precious, something for all time.
Love is the person you want to call “mine.”
Eli: Oh, that wasn’t too painful, Grammy. It was short.
Grammy: Thanks, Eli. That’s a great endorsement.
Eli: So, now can we call Steve in, so I can interview him?
Grammy: Yes, go for it.
Eli calls out: Steeeeeve.
Grammy: Yes, kids in the audience, Steve is sitting right here, so we’re just going to say hi to him.
Steve: Hey Eli, I’m here. You’re ready to interview me?
Eli: We are! Have a seat in our social distancing studio.
Grammy: Hi, Steve.
Steve: Hello, Eli!
Eli: So, Steve, we’re all eager to hear about what you do for work. What is your job, and how long have you been doing it?
Steve: I’m an air traffic controller in a radar room at Bradley airport. I’ve been doing this job for thirty-three years.
Eli: What does an air traffic controller do exactly? Don’t the pilots fly the planes?
Steve: Yeah, we tell them where to go. We tell them when to climb and turn. We instruct them on how to get into a sequence at Bradley. They can’t just all come together at once, so we have to put them there. And we keep them safe.
Eli: Do you talk to pilots and what do you tell them about?
Steve: Yes, I talk to pilots constantly. That’s my job. I keep them from running into each other. I keep them from running into high mountains or going towards really bad weather. I sequence them toward an airport, and I keep them on routes in the sky—like highways in the sky.
Eli: What kind of aircrafts fly in the Bradley air space?
Steve: We have all kinds—F15s, which are military fighters; C5s, which are military cargo planes that can carry tanks all over the world; small, private planes; all kind of airliners—737s, 747s; and drones; and believe it or not, we actually talk to hot air balloons too.
Eli: How many planes do you see on your radar scope in a day?
Steve: This year, we’re seeing about 300 to 400 planes a day.
Eli: Is that what it’s usually like this time of year?
Steve: No, we usually do about 800 planes this time of year per day, and in years past, we’ve done as many as 1,500, but the virus has put a big crunch on that this year.
Eli: How does that change your work?
Steve: Well, it’s easier. It’s slower, and instead of working six days a week, I’m working five days, and then having five off.
Grammy: Woo hoo. I love that part.
Steve: And instead of seven to 10 controllers in the room, we have two or three, and that helps us do social distancing, and there’s hardly anybody in the building, so they can keep the building safe from the virus.
Eli: What do you love about what you do?
Steve: I love talking to planes and the sense of accomplishment I get from running a really busy sequence or stopping planes from hitting each other. There’s planes sometimes that have mechanical problems, and they start to fall out of the sky, and I talk to them and get them to an airport safely. That makes me feel really good.
Eli: Thanks for telling us all that, Steve. I hope some time I get to go down and watch you!
Grammy: I got to do that once, Eli. It was really interesting and really fun to see Steve doing what he does, and boy, was that room dark. I couldn’t see anything!
Eli: Steve, thanks for coming on the show. We’ll see you soon!
Steve: Thank you, Eli, and Poem Pod Girl!
Grammy: See you soon, Steve!
Grammy: Eli, what do you think should be today’s activity?
Eli: Kids, I think it would be cool if you wrote about—or drew—some of the planes Steve was talking about! Look up in the sky and draw what you see. Imagine the planes Steve was talking about.
Grammy: Or pretend you’re an air traffic controller, watching a radar scope and talking to pilots. Write about what you might say! You can use Google to search for pictures of the kinds of planes Steve was talking about.
Eli: Then you can imagine them better to draw them!
Grammy: Please share your writing or drawings on my blog or Facebook page!
Eli: We want to see what you’re imagining!
Grammy: That’s the end of the eighteenth Poem Pod. Let’s keep smiling under our masks and when we aren’t even wearing one.
Eli: Have a great day everybody!