Port Moresby Control Tower - 1971-73

This photo was taken inside the Control Tower at Port Moresby's Jacksons Airport, Papua, shortly after a new console was installed in November 1971. Jackson's had recently taken over from Lae, New Guinea, as the main airport for the Australian mandated territories of Papua and New Guinea.

The earlier two-person console became inadequate to serve increasing traffic, particularly jet traffic to and from Australia, as it did not have space to operate an Area/Arrivals Control function. Additional Control Area (CTA) had been formed between Port Moresby and Lae to cater for F.27s operating in place of DC3s, and to the south towards Cairns as Boeing 727s had taken over from L188 Electras. Moresby Area Control also had a Trans-Continental Control Area (TCTA) which was active for a Qantas Boeing 707 service Sydney-Moresby-Manila and return. The Area Control fuction extended out to about 200 NM from Moresby.

Because of the nature of the terrain and weather patterns, at that time every aircraft flying in Papua and New Guinea, whether IFR or VFR, was required to carry radio and operate on a full reporting basis: there were no such things as Sartime or NoSar-NoDetails flights, as there were on the mainland.

At left in the photograph is Bill Leahy on the Flight Data position. This position was responsible for preparing all the flight progress strips and sending departure (and other) messages. At the far end of the console Don Barrett is doing Aerodrome Approach Control. In the middle is Peter McKenna acting as Coordinator - responsible for coordination of with Flight Service, other Towers (e.g. Lae), Operational Control, local operators and so on (e.g. Aero Club, Fire Service). Closest to the camera is Geoff Nye operating the new Area/Arrivals Control position.

Geoff recalls: "I was the PNG Regional Check Controller at the time - the only one, in fact, and I covered every position in PNG, i.e. Port Moresby aerodrome/approach, area, senior ops, searchmaster, Lae, Madang, Wewak, Goroka, and Mount Hagen aerodrome/approach. I lived in Moresby but generally was away for 2 weeks and home for 2 weeks. Most of my travelling between the 6 ATC units was done in my own Cessna 172 (part owner with a couple of friends who rarely used the aircraft). It was an incredible experience to have gained - the flying was very challenging, and the country beautiful. Flying the C172 was always a challenge as you operated on the performance limits - high density altitudes - takeoffs often at 7 to 8 thousand feet, high cruising levels - 9, 10, 11 thousand most of the time. You flew by the 'P' charts. If the chart said you needed 5300ft for takeoff, you can bet that the aircraft wouldn't become airborne until 5000+ft!"

Back to the photo: the tape recorder on the back ledge was the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS), invented by the local radio tech. Note also the compass cardinal points painted on the windows and pillars

Below: Another photo taken inside Port Moresby Tower, this time in late 1972 or early 1973 with Ansett and TAA Fokker F.27s featuring, plus an Ansett Twin Otter (near the fan). The covered walkways were part of the new airport Terminal development which took place in 1972. The new terminal featured the 'Balus Bar' which was designed to discourage people from going up to the Gateway Hotel about 200 metres away for a pre-departure drink and then missing their flight. The Balus Bar was also famous for introducing a new minimum dress standard: no entry without thongs!


Port Moresby Tower


Click here to see an external view of this Tower

(Photo: Top-Post Courier/CAHS collection / Bottom-CAHS collection)

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