Love in the airwaves: an ATC controller falls for a first officer

You may have heard of love at first sight, but have you ever experienced love at first sound? Our last aviation couple, Rachel and Tyler, certainly have.  

While the other couples featured in our Valentine’s Day series met as strangers on a plane whose love blossomed on the ground, Rachel and Tyler’s love story began via the airwaves. 

Rachel’s journey into commercial aviation began almost a decade ago when, fascinated by planes and the idea of taking to the skies, she decided to become a professional pilot.  

Meeting a female pilot in the United States, where Rachel is from, is not as easy or commonplace as you might think. Approximately 4-5% of pilots in North America’s aviation sector are women, which is significantly lower than the percentage of female physicians, surgeons and lawyers in the country.  

However, despite this low figure, Rachel was so enamored by planes that neither the long training and developmental hours nor the intense competition among those wishing to become pilots diminished her desire to take control of a commercial aircraft. So, Rachel decided to dedicate her life to aviation, becoming a first officer on an Airbus A320 passenger jet. She currently works for a major airline based in Florida. 

Ready for take-off 

While it is not unusual for pilots to have family members in the same professional field, Rachel did not meet her partner on a flight deck. In early September 2016, Rachel was scheduled for a regular passenger flight from Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) where she was based, when she met her fiancé, Tyler, who was on duty as a long-term air traffic controller.  

“[The] first time I talked to him was when Tyler cleared me to take-off,” Rachel recalls.  

Rachel and Tyler

Rachel and Tyler 

Following the pre-departure procedures, Tyler and Rachel were only able to talk about the job at hand but formal radio communication with the pilot was enough for Tyler to fall in love with Rachel’s voice. 

“Later, I found out that his colleagues jokingly told them that my voice sounded flirtatious. But, for me, it was one of the ordinary pilot procedures,” Rachel says. “When I came back to land, his co-worker, the ground controller, invited me up for a tower tour. That’s how I met Tyler.” 

Rachel found the tour entertaining, meeting with Tyler’s colleagues and getting a chance to look around. The seemingly innocent conversation by radio quickly turned into a strong bond between the pilot and the ATC controller. The couple, who have many interests in common and share an enormous passion for aviation, soon started dating and eventually even became engaged.  

Rachel and Tyler

Rachel and Tyler 

Mutal understanding and support  

Being in a relationship with the ATC controller has helped Rachel to discover a different side of the aviation industry.  

Like commercial airline pilots, air traffic controllers also typically work long hours and are shift-workers. For some people working on the ground, these circumstances could prove challenging. But as the couple lives and works in a similarly intense manner, Rachel and Tyler benefit from mutual support and an understanding of the aviation industry.  

“Missed holidays and occasions are inherently a part of our both jobs. But aside from that, we both find the necessary strength and desire to devote time to each other and we are doing it great,” Rachel adds with a smile.