Observations from the Tower – Memoirs of an Air Traffic Controller

Air Traffic Control
ISBN 1-903953-43-X
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by John Kilburn
A former ATC recalls his 30-year career in Air Traffic Control 1957-1987

When John Kilburn began his career as an air traffic controller in 1957 it was an occupation far removed from its modern high-tech counterpart and his recollections constitute an eyewitness record of the history and development of air-traffic control over the years that followed, making this book a valuable resource for anyone interested in aviation history.

When John Kilburn laughingly says that he has served ‘a life sentence in aviation’ he is not entirely joking.

His connection with things aeronautical began in 1943 when he joined the Royal Air Force. He trained a a wireless operator and in that capacity served for the remainder of WW2 and afterwards until 1947.

In common with many former RAF aircrew he then went on to fly with civilian airlines, serving as a Radio Officer until ill-health forced him to quit flying duties in 1957.

Then came a change of career, when he retrained as an air traffic controller, a profession in which he would remain for another 30 years – many of them spent in the ‘Ivory Tower’ at Blackpool airport, where he became Senior Air Traffic Controller (SATCO) in 1965, a position he retained for 16 years until volunteering to stand down in order to enjoy the relatively quiet life of a regular ATC until retirement in 1987.

John became a well-known figure at Blackpool airport and his voice familiar to thousands of pilots with whom he communicated during his many years at the famous seaside resort's 'other' tower.

From 1987 to 1995 he came out of retirement to become a part-time ATC at RAF Woovale, near Southport, finally retiring after 52 years in aviation.

In this informative and entertaining memoir he shares many experiences with his readers and gives a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ into the world of air traffic control as it used to be –  far removed from the high technology of today – taking in, along the way, many other aspects of his long and varied connections with aviation.

Details softback | 140 x 205 mm | 206 pages | monochrome photos