Scores of Dallasites pause to listen to him each morning as he pinpoints accidents and sheds light on gridlock situations around the metro area from his post high in the sky. When Chip Waggoner isn’t hovering over the latest breaking news scene or advising commuters on alternate routes, he just wants to be a down-to-Earth husband, father and neighbor.

Have you lived in the Lake Highlands area long?
Our first house was in Lake Highlands on the L Streets. Then my wife’s job relocated us to Grapevine for awhile. When she took a job back here at Park Cities Baptist [Church], we agreed we would move back to Lake Highlands. We’ve been here for four years now.

I hear you’re involved in your neighborhood VIP (Volunteers in Patrol). What interested you in that?
My job carries an unusual schedule. I go to work very early in the morning, then I go back in the evenings, so it’s really difficult to get plugged into the community. VIP is a good way for me to get involved, get to know the neighborhood and my neighbors.

Speaking of your job, was traffic always your thing, or did you start out with other expectations?
No, I had no interest in traffic. After graduating from TCU, my dream job was calling play-by-play, preferably for the Texas Rangers. I wanted to be a sportscaster, and I sent out all kinds of résumé tapes … and ended up working at a few different radio stations. I worked at the USA Radio Network based in Dallas for a few years, but to be honest, I got frustrated with the business. I left and got a job in the private sector — I basically just gave up on the dream.  A buddy of mine told me about the [traffic reporter] opening at Channel 4. On a whim, I stuck my name in the hat.

Obviously, the job is working out. What made you a good fit for this job?
I think my play-by-play training equipped me for this job. That’s what I do — off the cuff, spontaneous reporting, just in a different venue. Today, for example, we rushed to cover a car that drove into Bachman Lake, then to a SWAT team standoff at an apartment, and then back to cover traffic. It’s like Forrest Gump’s proverbial box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get with this job.

You had quite a scare about this time last year. Tell us about that.
We were following an escaped convict and were right around the edge of Joe Pool Lake, when the helicopter experienced a catastrophic engine failure. The pilot was trained to handle this type of situation … but we ended up hitting ground at about 60 miles per hour. The pilot was uninjured. Traffic reporter Julie DeHardy suffered a fractured vertebrate requiring surgery … I had a neck disk protrusion and had to do a little physical therapy.

Did you fear getting back in the air?
Anyone who does what I do has to have the mentality of a racecar driver. It’s rare, but something could go wrong at anytime — you just need to be prepared. I am a person of great faith. My wife doesn’t like me talking like this, but I am ready whenever God wants to take me. I know my family will be taken care of. That belief makes it easy for me to continue.