Perth - First Control Tower - 1960

By the late 1930s the limitations of Perth's Maylands aerodrome to accommodate progressively larger aircraft were apparent. Land for a larger aerodrome at nearby Guildford was purchased in 1938, but the Second World War intervened before development could really get underway and the aerodrome was taken over and developed for military use. Australian National Airways and Qantas began services from Guildford in May 1944, but it wasn't until 1946 that the majority of civil services transferred from Maylands.

As Guildford had opened for some civil movements prior to the end of the Second World War, civil Air Traffic Controllers began to operate at the aerodrome from late 1944 alongside RAAF Controllers. The USAAF and RAAF were still the main aerodrome users until after 1945. Aerodrome Control was done from 'The Hut at the Apex' (of the runways): complete with three-holder deep-sinker toilet facilities! A retired Controller recalled that "When the weather was warm and sunny, boxes and seats would be taken outside the hut, the duty Controller of course staking his position within earshot of the crackling radio receiver and telephone."

With both MacRobertson Miller Airways (MMA) and Airlines WA still operating from Maylands, the last scheduled arrival at Guildford was at 7 pm when the regular DC-3 from Adelaide and all stops was due to land. As this aeroplane was not scheduled to leave until 7 am the next morning, there were often no movements at Guildford during the night or early mornings. Therefore, a Guildford Controller was always rostered for duty at Maylands to attend to the early morning scheduled departures there. After the departures were away, the Maylands Controller usually proceeded to Guildford to take over from the man who had been on night duty.

 

The first proper Control Tower was erected at Guildford in 1946 and was of fairly standard construction for the period, being a glassed cab on a wooden latticework support structure. The wonderful photo on this page was taken on 4 August 1960 and shows the first Control Tower, as well as some of the period vehicles and equipment nearby. Notably, the windows are canted outward to reduce reflections in the cab, a feature of 'modern' Control Towers. Also of interest is the mast with yellow cane signal ball and the duty runway sign ('02') on the balcony.

Retired Perth-based pilot with MMA Captain Reg Adkins comments: "The Darling Range is in the background. Close proximity of aircraft parking near the Tower is suggested by the aircraft steps. Free & easy car parking by the fences. And the Duty Runway is 02, so there must have been a Nor'easter blowing!"

 

 

 

 

(Photo: John Havercroft via Reg Adkins)

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