Birdsville 'Control Tower' - 1982

Up until the early 1990s, the Department routinely provided a 'Control Tower' service for airshows and other events at which large numbers of aircraft were expected. One of the best known of the latter were the annual 'Birdsville Races'. These horse races, held in the remote outback Queensland town of Birdsville since 1882, attract fly-in (and drive-in) visitors from many parts of Australia. Each year the population of Birdsville swells from about 115 to over 6,000 for the race weekend.

With hundreds of aircraft converging on Birdsville, the Department felt it wise to establish a Control Tower for the weekend. The photo above shows the temporary Tower in September 1982. The Tower itself was a fairly basic structure and portable VHF radios were used for communication. It was staffed out of the Department's Queensland Region and in the background can be seen the borrowed army tents which were the staff accommodation facilties!

The identifiable Controllers were, from left to right: Jim O'Meara (in the red hat); Geoff Barrett (wearing the headset); Tony Allison (white hat); and Peter 'Pooh Bear' Scott (green hat). Peter Scott was the OIC, Tony Allison and Geoff Barrett were Senior Controllers from Regional HQ, and Lance Millar and Jim O'Meara were, according to Jim, "Boggy ATCs".

It was not just light aircraft flying in either, as behind the tents can be seen the fin of a TAA Fokker Friendship, an airline charter bringing in visitors for the weekend.

(Photo: J. Taylor/CAHS collection)


Left: Birdsville aerodrome layout, from Aerodrome Diagrams, 24 December 1981. The sealed main runway was a relatively new addition, both runways having previously been unsealed gravel.


Back to the main Air Traffic Services index


If this page appears without a menu bar at top and left, click here