Melbourne Flight Service Centre - 1976

This photo shows a section of the Melbourne Flight Service Centre (FSC) in 1976. The officers are, from left to right, Jim Ware, Duty FIS Supervisor, and John O'Sullivan, Shift Supervisor, (standing), David Keyser and John Milton. David Keyser was the other Shift Supervisor and was providing break relief on the FS 2 position. John Milton was operating the FS 1 position. John went on to become Manager of the Melbourne FSC in the 1990s.

FS 1 and 2 in those days covered all of western Victoria. Imagine a line north/south through Melbourne: all to the west was their airspace. FS 1 was the master console but from 0600 to 2000 local covered airspace within 100 miles of Melbourne. FS 2 took the rest out to the South Australia/Victoria border and up to the Murray river, and abutted Mildura and Wagga FIAs (basically the Victorian parts of what later became FIS 14 and FIS 15 airspace).

The FSC was located at the western end of the first floor of Building 4 at Melbourne/Tullamarine Airport, adjacent to the Area Approach Control Centre (AACC). The larger Flight Service Centres were established at capital city airports whereas the regional outstations were Flight Service Units (FSUs).

The console is typical late 1960s-1970s style, with the upper component in cream and dark green (see a similar console in colour here) and the Centre itself generally panelled in varnished wood. The curved overhead maps were designed to be read without requiring focal-length changes from the seated position. Beneath the maps, the upper section of the console comprised numersous modules containing controls for intercoms and radios. These were designed to be removable for maintenance or modification, a great advance on previously hard-wired consoles.

On the desk-top part of the console, John Milton is using a standard single-bay movable strip display. In Flight Service, a single strip would be prepared for each flight and all the currently active strips would be displayed in the same bay. The strips were displayed in time order, with the next action due at the bottom. The black strips at the top of the bay were reminders of active Restricted Areas or sector configurations in the neighboring AACC. Between the two FSOs at the console is a larger, portable strip bay in which pending (not yet active) strips were kept.

Note also the ashtray on the console at bottom right - a sign of the times!

(Photo: CAHS collection)

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