Recently the cadets, NCOs, officers and parents from Sunbury Squadron were afforded a very unique opportunity to get behind-the-scenes with a guided tour of the Melbourne Airport Air Traffic Control Centre.
Under the guidance of Mr Karl Gombos from Airservices Australia, they were given an entertaining and informative tour of the Melbourne Centre buildings including a trip to the observation deck surrounding the control tower. From nearly 45 metres above the ground and in the shadow of the airport’s soon-to-be opened 79 metre tall tower, they took in a panoramic view of the runways, taxiways and surrounds. Whilst watching the arriving and departing traffic, the members listened and learnt as Mr Gombos explained the role that each controller plays in keeping Australia’s skies the safest in the world.
Upon returning to terra firma, they then made their way over to the building that houses the Air Traffic Service known as Melbourne Centre. Controlling air traffic across the southern half of our continent and the Indian and Southern Oceans, Melbourne Centre manages an area equivalent to approximately 15% of the earth’s surface and is one of the largest Flight Information Region’s in the world. The tour included a short chance to see this vital service at work before moving on to Airservices’ Training centre and a not-to-be-missed chance to try the Air Traffic Control simulators.
Unlike a Flight Sim, these simulators have no keyboard or joystick, but rely upon the controller to give clear and precise commands over the radio to the pilots under their charge. Aided by the on-hand Airservices instructors, it was certainly a sight to behold as Sunbury’s cadets and NCOs became budding trainee Air Traffic Controllers as they donned headsets and guided the aircraft under their control safely across their screens.
The day finished with a short parade at the front of the Melbourne Centre building where Mr Gombos presented each cadet with a small memento of their day – an Airservices stress toy in the shape of a 747!
In closing, Sunbury Squadron would like to extend their thanks to the staff at Airservices Melbourne Centre for graciously hosting our visit with special thanks to Mr Gombos for his entertaining and informative tour-guidance.