for broadcast. Private mail is now ready for collection from
the British Forces Post Office. End of broadcast.”
all heard this happy news drift out from the Station Tannoy,
but did you know that anything broadcast on the Tannoy
system is done by ATC? Who are ATC? A terrific crowd,
someone once said. The trouble is,
it was such a long time ago,
that nobody remembers who.
Control is the answer. We are the guys responsible, besides
the Tannoy messages,
for seeing aircraft that might
contain your wife, girlfriend, replacement, or stickies,
safely onto the runway, and perhaps yourself safely away.
three basic shifts, and we mean basic. Who else sits around
a11 day reading ‘Confessions of a Window Cleaner’. We have
two shift periods, all morning, and
afternoon/night .Now you may think that afternoon/night is a
long time to sit around doing nothing, however some
brilliant person has decreed that we only have to sit in the
tower during the morning. For the other shift we are just on
call by telephone until about an hour and a half before a
movement, then we go in to work. So, unless you come in
during the morning, all you will find is one of the three
intrepid assistants who man the switchboard 24 hours a day.
we give the parole for good conduct
occasionally.We have three persons on each shift. A Radar
Controller, a visual controller and the Assistant, who I
have already mentioned. To be a controller you need three
You must be able to make
You have to be able to read. (Otherwise you would fall
asleep with boredom)
3) you must
be crazy to do this job in the first place.
when an aircraft calls us, all hell is let loose but we
manage to calm each other down and the Radar Controller
speaks to the aircraft. He tells him
the latest weather here and,
from 100 miles away, he attempts to bring the aircraft
towards Gan and feed him onto final approach. However
most aircraft do this
themselves so the controller just sits there, looking at the
radar screen, yawning. During the approach there are
important stages. When the aircraft is 70 miles away we let
Operations know and they pass the word round to the rest of
the station. This produces various comments, from “Why are
you waking me up at this time of night?” to “What the hell
is he doing here half an hour early?”
At 30 miles
from Gan we tell SAS flight who argue amongst themselves and
finally tell us where they want the aircraft parked. We have
come to the conclusion that they have not much choice on an
island this size.Finally, at 12 miles, the Visual
Controller, who has been ever vigilant throughout thus,
alternately scanning the airfield and a tattered copy of
Penthouse, switches the traffic lights to red and checks
that the runway is clear of vehicles, rubbish, and the
occasional drunk. When it is he gives the aircraft
permission to land.
At this stage it would be good to
mention that if you are walking round the island and you
have passed the lights, when you hear a ringing in your ears
it is not a recurrence of the hangover that you had earlier.
It means that the lights have gone to red. So the idea is
then to turn round and walk back, not to try to beat the
aircraft to the other side. This is simply because we do not
like scraping your remains off the runway afterwards.
Anyway the aircraft lands safely and we go back to normal,
reading, drinking coffee, dozing, etc.
working day it is possible that you could bump into another
person, wandering round the tower, muttering things like
a side league”, “Must have more porn”,
and ”Don’t give me a hard tine sunshine”. He is the SATCO,
the Senior Air Traffic Control Officer, and is supposed to
know all there is about ATC. Please do not tell him
otherwise though, as he is liable to refuse to speak to us.
It is too quiet as it is.
to finish off, we do work very hard up here in the tower. It
is just that everyone visits us in our “ slack” periods.