Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fletcher Photography.
A few weeks back I had the amazing opportunity to visit the control tower at East Midlands airport. Before heading up to the main tower we had a look at the radar room. This is where the approach controllers handle arriving aircraft before handing them over to tower for landing clearance. The setup was quite fascinating and the active controller just worked away with a noisy crowd in the background – some serious focus going on. I wouldn’t be able to do the job even without the noise! There were too many screens to look at, even after half an hour in the room I didn’t know what they were all for. While seeing the control room and some controllers in action was very interesting, it gave me no desire to be an air traffic controller.
I was up for the challenge of 248 steps but in the interest of time took the lift with the rest of the group. Sigh, maybe another day! The tower controllers have access to pretty much the same information as the approach controllers and then an amazing view to top it off. It was great watching the arrivals and departures from the tower, a perspective I’ve not had before. I thought of some intelligent questions to ask our tour guide, one of the few I can remember is ‘how often are the windows cleaned?’ The response was ‘not often.’ They were last cleaned years ago – a combination of sideways rain, the rake of the glass and a special coating make it so that it doesn’t need doing often. A good job too, I’m sure it wouldn’t be cheap!
I was reluctant to leave at the end of the tour, it really was quite fascinating seeing how the controllers work to help us pilots out. I wish I could remember the tour in a bit more detail, it’s my fault for not writing about it weeks ago.
One last photo for good luck. Training update: Ground school is complete with its various exams passed. After a couple of weeks off I’m about to start training in the simulator. I’ll do my best to write a little about what goes on in those training sessions but I know I’ll be busy.