Mackay Control Tower - 1968
rotating aerodrome beacon - click here for moreControl Tower cab - click to see insidePassenger Terminal/Operations Building

The photo above shows the Passenger Terminal/Operations Building, Control Tower and apron at Mackay, Qld., in November 1968. The aircraft at the extreme right is a Lockheed L-188 Electra.

Retired Air Traffic Controller Ainslie Rowland remembers working in this Tower:

"The new Tower at Mackay [opened in July 1972] was Star Wars compared to the old one, which was located on top of the terminal. That building still exists, being used as offices by a mining company.

"After being right on top of the aircraft on the apron, it was like doing Air Traffic Control by remote control. In the old Tower we couldn't hear a thing once a jet started an engine - watched the AOR light flash and blindly told the jet to line up. Nothing else could move without comms. The new Tower was absolutely silent in comparison - luxury, but a bit eerie without the aircraft noise.

"The staff at transition were: David May OIC (Officer In Charge), John Moore, Don Paten, Chris Ross and myself. With the transition, MK (Mackay) lost a lot of airspace. In the old Tower we had Control Area 'up to the moon' from halfway to Rockhampton (Charon Point) to halfway to Townsville (Bowen / Binbee / Tablemount). We did both jobs at once - two frequencies at once with no retransmit - good fun.

"Townsville took over the Area Control function above 6000ft, which took a lot of the workload off us. MK in the early '70s was a very busy aerodrome, by far the busiest out-station in Australia. All the Whitsunday tourist traffic passed through there - Proserpine was a minor aerodrome and Hamilton Island didn't exist.

"Every gaggle consisted of two DC9s two minutes apart, three Twin Otters, the big Ansett chopper (Vh-BRI), the two Lindeman aircraft (Vh-ABX and VH-ALN), and assorted lighties all coming to connect with the jets. The terminal was choc a bloc and we frequently had to park halfway up Juliette St and walk to work. It was far and away the most challenging ATC work I've ever done."

The photo below shows Mackay Tower and part of the Passenger Terminal in the late 1960s, as seen from landside.


Click here to see another view of this Tower

Click here to see inside this Tower

(Photos: CAHS collection)


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