On this episode of The Drive Home to Hawkesbury, Rachael speaks to Drew Marshall – Defence Air Traffic Control Officer. Drew grew up in Canberra and in 198 joined the Air Force originally to train as a pilot. Unfortunately, he wasn’t successful at pilot training and swapped over to Air Traffic Control, a role he was much more suited and did well.
Drew’s first posting in 1982 was to the RAAF Base at Pearce in WA where he spent four years. During this time, Drew deployed to the Middle East – the Sinai – as a member of the Multinational Forces and Observers (MFO) for six months.
In 1986, Drew was posted to RAAF East Sale in Gippsland in Victoria, the home of the Roulettes, where he spent four years. 1990 saw Drew posted to RAAF Base Darwin for two years. In 1992, Drew began a long association with the home of the RAAF Fighter Force when he was posted to RAAF Williamtown. In his first five years at Williamtown, as well as Air Traffic Control duties, Drew performed other roles such as the Base Fire Officer – heading up the airfield fire fighting section and undertook various deployments around Australia in support of the ADF’s exercise programme. In 1997, Drew went back to RAAF East Sale for another four year posting but returned to Williamtown in 2001.
In 2001, Drew transferred from the permanent Air Force to the Air Force Reserve and began a long period of headquarters staff work directly in support of the RAAF Fighter Force at 81 Wing and Headquarters Air Combat Group. It was during this time that the RAAF deployed Fighters to the Middle East in support of Operation Falconer. Drew remained at Williamtown playing a key role as part of a skeleton home support staff during the deployment. One of Drew’s proudest moments was participating in the welcome home parade in 2006 marching the length of George St in Sydney with the other members of the deployment force before being welcomed home by the Governor General and Prime Minister at Sydney Town Hall.
Drew performed various (non ATC) roles at Williamtown over the period 2001 to 2012 including as Visits Liaison Officer meeting and greeting VIPs who were visiting Williamtown and as the Base Aviation Safety Officer, a key role managing the safe operation of the airfield.
In 2012, Drew returned to his primary role as an Air Traffic Controller but this time slightly differently. The RAAF employs ex-RAAF Air Traffic Control Officers as members of the Australian Public Service (APS) to supplement the members of the Permanent Air Force (PAF). Drew took up a position as an APS Air Traffic Control Officer at RAAF Base Richmond in 2012 and has established his home in the Hawesbury (in one of Rachael Goldsworthy Realty rental properties) where he continues to live and work.
Drew enjoys undertaking fitness activities which include participating in the Parkrun at East Richmond when shift work allows and is a keen SCUBA diver.
I Live, Love, Hawkesbury and can’t wait to get into today’s episode.
I’m Rachael Goldsworthy and welcome to the drive home to Hawkesbury, where I believe every home has a story and I love sharing those stories on real estate in the street with you. Can you we share the fish ways to add value to your property, how to avoid the common mistakes people make when buying and selling property, and how to get the maximum return on your investment with a focus on supporting local business. I live love and can’t wait to get into today’s episode with you. So let’s get started.
Morning, good afternoon or good evening depending on what time you’re watching this video. I’m Rachael Goldsworthy on the drive home to Hawkesbury and today I am joined by Mike Delta. This is row Romeo golf to you. Do you read me over?
How are you drew? That’s obviously not how bad I. I know I was going to say Romeo Golf to Mike Delta. Are you there? Maybe Delta. Mike. Oh, Delta. Mike. Okay. Because you reverse it. Of course. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you. Yeah, really good. Thank you. So great to have you on the show today because um, a lot of people where we live in the Hawkesbury and we’ve got the towers and we’ve got the planes overflying and um, we get to see some beautiful plains and it’s good to have somebody on like yourself that is able to share the information on what’s actually happening in the air. And I’m your illustrious career in the RAF and also as a civilian now. So tell me a little bit about that. What’s it like being an air traffic controller?
Uh, well, it, it varies a lot. Richmond is a lot quieter than the basis I’ve been at. I’ve started my life over in Perth where the air force had a, they have a flying school over there and so it’s really, really busy. Then abandoned places like Darwin and William Chan, which are equally as busy back different. And then Richmond is a lot quieter than those places. So Richmond has its moments, but it’s a quiet place, believe it or not. I don’t think a lot of a lot of residents who believed that come sort of July or January when the Hornets come down to do their stuff, but certainly it is a lot quieter than it used to than it used to be at an end compared to other devices.
No. Terrific. And um, what changes are coming up with the base? Do you know of any sort of snippets that the locals don’t know about or any insights that you can tell us about or is that
mean it’s a fairly well known fact that, um, the spot. And so the new to engine aircraft that we blocked down there at the moment, they only Dalani be huge at the end of the year. And then I really liked character emily, so we’ll go back to just having a in of Hercules, but I mean essentially richmond is still lead the transport hub of Sydney and um, I, I don’t know, it’s a, it’s something that I don’t really pay a lot of attention to is to how long the base together be there for. But you will have noticed that as you go on Hawkesbury Valley, why they’re bullying us new control tower, so that, that to me is a bit of a commitment. You probably have seen that yet, mastering mushroom thing appearing in the middle of the year and now it’s got a whole lot of blue top
holding around it. So it’s a commitment. Yeah, absolutely. And, um, I think John’s joined us on the line and Joe and a few other people. So hello to everybody that’s listening to every Bernie with this equally, um, the towers, I mean, one was not enough. We needed to. There is a bigger commitment as you say. So how many planes are coming in every day? What sort of, um, you know, tracking
did we, we can have a really busy day the other day when I was here and we had a, I know probably 36 to 48 aircraft movements. Say they had a lot to do with the parachute and that we’re doing a yet you’re going to get quite days that are quite different. I believe that yesterday was a busy day. I, uh, one of the, uh, what am I training Chinese actually got his qualification, you’ll say, so was pleasing you, sent me a text and said it was a really busy day. So, and I was in Richmond and I saw a lot of [inaudible] flying over. So was there doing some circuit training there. So was it reasonably busy day?
Well, isn’t that great if you get the certification?
Yes it is. It’s a big, it’s a big milestone in a junior controls life to get it. That’s his first control writing. So he graduated, he graduated from the school in, in Gippsland about 18 months ago. So yes, this is a big step and he’s in Korea.
And tell me, I’m drew. What is it that somebody needs to do if they want to be a traffic air traffic control of what is the training involved? Is it years, is it months, is it, you know, simulation, what do you do? What do you have to do?
Okay. Um, the system is set up so they can take a person off the street who has no affiliation background than I do about 20 weeks of officer training school, Dan at the rep basically style and that’s just general officer’s training. So all of the, all of the officers do the same training and then I go off to the school of the air traffic control, which happens to be at the same base down at a silent during that nine months there. So all in all it’s about 12 months of training and depending on where they were, the, the officer training a lot of food chain in glove with going over to the school. Some caught, a lot of times it doesn’t. So there’s a bit of hanging around. But uh, about nine months id you graduate as an air traffic controller, but that gives you the, the, the skills to go out to a base and then get trained at that phase two to drive their traffic at that bites.
And that’s what this young fellow is just done. He’s, he’s just say he completed, he completed his training about last year and a British qualification. Now after doing some training you asked me about the simulation. The school at style has, I have large, very, have a very uh, um, comprehensive, uh, air traffic control simulator which mirrors, which means a of traffic control tower. It’s, it’s, um, it’s a very big video game. Basically it’s a big room or there are in fact two of them and they have big screens around the outside and it mirrors exactly what you would see in a control tower and it’s very, very effective pitch equipment.
And when you in that simulator, does it feel real, I mean, do you, because you know, it’s a simulated because you’re sitting in there, do you think, uh, huts, just, just something that you do and we’re just gonna get in there. We’re going to play a bit of an xbox and enter that land. This plane safely.
Surprisingly no, I was out of the air traffic control for about 12 years doing other staff work and I had to go back and do a refresher in 2013 down at the school. And um, you do think, ah, it’s just, they’re just virtuals pitchers on the, on the, on the, on the screens that have not. It’s something like that at all. You really get into it. It becomes, it becomes, I think a lot, a lot of people playing vr games are the same, but this is, this is encompassing. It’s 360 degrees and you are, you’re standing in what is equivalent to a control tower and you’re busy and you’ve got a lot of our appliances, a lot of inputs. You’ve got to do a price if she can provide a lot of, a lot of feedback. So yeah, it does. It get you in and it is a workout. It’s a big workout. It’s like being in the gym.
Yeah, I’m sure. And the feedback that you would need to give to the pilots, I would think would be fairly detailed on whether on conditions, on surfaces, those sorts of things. Can you walk us through your typical landing,
the, the, the controls role is to make sure that that an aircraft landing and taking off on the wrong way, it doesn’t collide with another something, whether it be a vehicle or a person or another aircraft. So the idea is that whenever an aircraft takes off or whatever and they’ve got lanes and surprisingly people who sit on the sides of runways, you come up to the control tower, you ask them how fast is that airplane going? And I say, well, I don’t know, say well they’re applying is growing at about 120 knots when it lands and takes off. And they go. I said how does that relate to driving on the road? Because it’s about double. So an aircraft landing and takeoff was doing about 240 kilometers an hour because it’s kind of like wide open in larger airplanes. It doesn’t. It’s kind of a relative thing.
So you can imagine. So I hope you ladies is about 60 tons of airplane and it’s doing 240 kilometers an hour. So landing and taking off. You don’t want to do anything. Probably not. Yeah, that’s a good point. Valid point. So that’s the role of the air traffic controller predominantly in control to make sure that there is no obstructions on the runway for an aircraft landing and taking off. It extends beyond that. Particularly at Richmond we have a lot more lateral space at richmond because we encompass where they do the parachuting. You’ve probably seen a lot of parachuting at Reagan, be Reagan on the AFL itself in Londonderry. So we encompass more, more a lateral area than most other control towers. Um, but so we have a bit to do with things like there’s a lot of people around here and helicopters. Uh, we had the rural fire service, they fly the helicopters around here, we have a rescue helicopters flying out to go to different accidents and we’ve got to keep them away also in the air from other aircraft in the air as well as landing and taking off.
So it was a bit of activity last night with helicopters overhead in Windsor and the whole school year, I believe there’s some grass fires. We’re putting out a few other people if you’ve actually caught me on leave. So I know I wasn’t a work yesterday. I don’t know exactly what was going on. Yeah, that that happened. That’s of my, my, my first year here. My first few months here after getting my qualification back was that period in 2013 when we had all these really bad wish was around the Hawkesbury and up the Blue Mountains. And we had. We had probably two dozen aircraft stationed at Richmond. And it was manic. It was, yeah, there was helicopters, there was a little fixed wing aircraft that dumped the Flyer Todd and plus the big aircraft that were dropping the Farrakhan as well. So it was really crazy. So we do do a lot of work with the rural fire service and in regards to the planes at the airport, what is the smallest plane and the capacity of that and what would be the largest plane.
Cool. Because we’re the transport hub, Bob Sidney, we get a lot of aircraft coming and going. For example, the other day we had one of the pushy nine trainers, which is a an a pilot trainer. It came up from east side where the central flying school is in the home of the rural eds. That’s the primary pilot training aircraft and the norm. They based at peers with to find training school leaders, but at siloed like trade teach. The parts become distracted. So one of those on Friday. But we have everything so we have a. quite often we’ll have the VIP aircraft come in. Like you say, I saw one of the challenges come in. That’s a little bit. It’s about, it’s about 10 or 12,000 kilograms. Some the one that. So it will fit probably half a dozen people and fly around Australia or the cabinet general to go to sort of hide walger or some of these regional places?
Yes. Yeah, it was a little white arrow. Yeah. So we’ll have them. We have the. We had the bb Js, which is also the 34 score on an aircraft because we have our hooks which are biased to you. We have the which are based up in Amberley and I’ll come down here both to do your transport. Great. I’ll pick up stuff here and go maybe for. So recently we had them for the relief effort in the Fiji and the Solomons and places like that. But they also do other work like parachuting work. So they’ll do, they’ll pick up a load of parachutes and drop them over Richmond, all our pickup, some cargo which has been set up with parachutes and I’ll drop it over. Londonderry parachuters that Hercules. Or is it only now they come out of like coming out of the spot and sort of Hercules and the seventeens.
And so they essentially just dropped the back flying along and then everybody will just jump at a certain height. That’s right. Yeah. Generally the, um, when they’re learning to do it, they are on a, on a static line, which was a sort of thing used, probably see in the movies were in World War Two. The parishes would jump out of a, out of a, a, a decoder and, and their parachutes with parachutes with open instantly. But we’ve come a long way since then. So that’s basically the initial training and I’ll do that generally over at Creek. There’s a big field, a big field in between rick and bees creek and Windsor and uh, they do that at about 1500 feet, but they vary between that and up to up to 10,000 feet with I do free fall as well as, as the, uh, the static line, isn’t it?
Scared of heights, but I’ve actually seen them jump from 18,000 feet. But then, I mean that’s what happens down at, that’s what they do down in Picton as well. You’ve probably been down the hume highway there and they’re jumping of the jumping and anything after 20,000 feet. So generally you need supplemental oxygen from about 10,000 feet. So the guards had jumped from the higher levels, I think they use supplemental oxygen or like jump and I drop really quickly and they don’t open their parachutes to below 10,000 feet in the air traffic control. You are looking at becoming a pilot.
I grew up in Canberra and my whole sole focus in life was to become an air force pilot. I was kind of obsessed, uh, joined the air force and uh, didn’t make pilot training. Didn’t cut. They didn’t cut the mustard at the right they wanted me. So yeah, you get that. But, um, I uh, was encouraged to consider air traffic control, so I swapped over the air traffic control and haven’t looked back. That was in the early eighties and I’ve been doing this job now for 37 years. So, and it’s taken me all over Australia, uh, both in postings, uh, any exercises. And it also took me would say I went to the Middle East and 94. Um, but as I’ve worked all over Australia, it’s been fabulous because, I mean I grew up in Canberra, are really caused a little company town. Yeah, they have a lot of the people, a lot of my peers joined the company and they’ve all, they’ve all retired now because they’re in that super scheme, but I’m still going and um, obviously, you know, all of the striker and a lot of my peers, if I haven’t been to Bali, that probably haven’t been out of Canberra.
So where would your favorite place that you’ve posted? Oh, that’s like asking me who your favorite child is different. There is because my first posting out of out of basic training was period, which put us and I really love pool. I love it. It’s a really lovely paste but it has its drawbacks. It’s truly isolated. I mean it’s supposed to be the most isolated city in the world and certainly in those days, in the early eighties it was because, you know, you’re had to just about a away two weeks worth of salary to get on an airplane different now. But then I was in Darwin for a few years and it’s similar in, it’s really isolated. Um, it has a drawing, a wet season, which season you don’t want to be there. Dry season. It’s fabulous fun about then the workout, the workout. There’s really, really good. It’s the, it’s the pinnacle for air traffic control working out.
But then I spent, I spent many years at Williamtown as far as I’m concerned, you’re not going to like this because you’re from the Hawkesbury, but the hunter is God’s country and it’s like, that’s your opinion. You’re entitled to that you don’t have a favorite thing. Then you look at Victoria. I’d quite like for Victoria as well. I mean Melbourne’s a really nice place and Gibsland is a beautiful little area to the east, to the east of Melbourne and I was down there originally trading some of the, some of the guys and I was enjoying myself. You know, there’s plenty of, it’s like the Hawkesbury actually because there’s plenty of places you can go and be out in the country. Quite regional. It’s really, really pretty. Yeah, for sure. And how long have you lived in the Hawkesbury? I’ve been back in it or been here now five and a half years.
I came and um, you enjoying? Yeah, I do. Actually, it’s, it’s, it is a lovely place. I um, I am discovering more about it. Um, I, I tend to do a lot of. I’ll go into town a lot so I’m a big theater go. But then somebody said, well hang on. What about going to something like the Riverside Theater and parent mentor or going down to the Joan Sutherland in penrith and I hadn’t considered them. So now I’m considering them but uh, but yeah, hooks reads a nice place. It’s very quite, you know, people say, Oh, where do you live in Sydney, but it’s kind of western Sydney so I’m not in the rat race and I avoid the Canada, the buisiness of Sydney when I can. Sometimes I don’t have a choice because I want to go into town or apparent matter, but certainly hope springs is a lovely place to live if you’ve got to be in the Sydney area.
Yeah, for sure. And you like to keep fit as well in your spare time. You do the park runs locally. Tell me a little bit about the parks and the favorite ones that you have.
Well, I’ve only done the POC at ace Richmond. Uh, that’s the local one, which is along the long haul for evaluating the, the, the, the park that’s between the information center and the tennis courts. And I really enjoy that. It’s flat and it’s, it’s a, it’s an easy. I mean there are other ones around here, like there’s one up at Goldstone, but that has, that’s a bit challenging I believe. Um, there’s other ones. The other close ones are at penrith lakes and apparently that’s really nice because the difference between penrith lakes in east richmond is you don’t go back on yourself. It’s one continuous loop. Whereas with a, with a treatment you do, you go back when you a couple of time and it’s five ks and it’s fun. It’s just a lovely, a good distance where it’s not too short, but not too long. And I don’t know what it is about Sunday mornings, but the last couple of Saturday mornings something I brought up and it’s been low single figures I think blue and enough want to go for a run, but I get down there and it’s a lovely sunshine and it’s projected that amongst the trees there and it’s just beautiful.
It’s really lovely.
Yeah. It’s such a, isn’t it?
Yeah. And then after that we wander off down to the market for, for breakfast. So we go down and get some, either some Nice Asian or some other sort of food down there. And it’s really lovely. I wonder in the markets in enrichment for breakfast.
Yeah, there’s so many diverse cultures and in different areas to look at within the Hawkesbury. And I love the market. It’s on the weekend as you say, and you can get anything from plants to produce to, you know, things that people have made themselves, the attention trails. Um, it’s just fabulous that the selection that we have available to us. So completely.
We were close proximity to the mountains as well. I, I, um, I took a friend up for drive up to Lira for lunch on Sunday and that was really lovely. We went up there, we stopped a couple of times on the way up, including the loss of markets. There’ll be quite a bit different to the Richmond market because more of a lot more sort of hand crafts and stuff and like not, not, not as much food, but uh, but that’s really lovely to be able to be in striking distance of the Blue Mountains as well.
Yeah, you’ve really got a nice choice. You can head into the city, as you said before for a night of theater or you can head out to the mountains for a day out and there’s some great walks along there as well. And even by the river in Windsor, it’s just such a beautiful place to be. So, um, lots of. Yeah. So tell me, um, other things to distress and air traffic controller, would that be diving? Is that on your list? I believe.
Oh, you’ve been doing your research, Rachel? I’m on holidays. This is six or eight months that I did. I mentioned that I was on holidays. Tell us about that. I sat in my holiday yesterday and I’ve given myself a few days before jumping on an airplane on Friday and going to the Maldives for eight days. I’ll be diving scuba diving off a boat for eight days in the Maldives skin. Scuba diving is a, is a, is something I started doing when I was a teenager in Canberra before I joined the air force and it’s just something I liked doing it. Talking about de-stressing. Yeah, it’s lovely because under the water, swimming around with beautiful colored fish and Carl and depending on where you are, I’ve been to Fiji and to Micronesia, but also been down the south coast of New South Wales and as Billy Connolly says, there’s no such thing as cold weather. It’s inappropriate clothing. So the different places in different places you go, you just put the different, different thicknesses of wetsuit on and enjoying the scenery.
I’ll have a thin wetsuit inn in the Maldives because the temperature is about 27 degrees. But uh, I’ve dived off Nelson buying dog down at the south coast where the water’s been about 14 degrees, so I had my six and a half mil semi dry on there. That was dive in the meltdowns. Most definitely, yes. And living on a budget so we don’t have to go back to the resort all the time. So we’ll get up in the morning. The first thing we’ll do is jump in our wetsuits to go for a dive and come back for breakfast.
That sounds like a really hard life theater, a little bit jealous
if you’ve got a distress, you’ve got to, you’ve got to be, you know, some people. It’s your holidays. We’ve got a very, I mean some people like walking around matching pitch you and some people like walking around Eastern Europe and, and, and some people like jumping on a, on a, on a cruise boat. I’ve done that too. I’ve been on a, on a cruiser out of Sydney for 12 days and that was quite relaxing. But um, but active tourism is good too, especially when you, when you’re fit and healthy.
Definitely. Yeah. And um, you’ve been with us at Rachael Goldsworthy realty for a number of years now, and tell me a little bit about that as a tenant. What’s your thoughts in regards to tenants and tenants in the Hawkesbury and, and that sort of thing?
Interesting, interesting question cause you’re my third property manager. Um, and I’m actually pleasantly surprised of the white people around who do business. Um, I, I haven’t been a longtime landlord owning investment properties myself and it’s kind of one of the tenants using the term in a different way. One of the tenants in, in real estate investment is probably manages a goal and I’m, I’m really pleasantly surprised at the way people do business here because I do a, well there’s certainly the property managers are active. I mean a previous, uh, property managers were inspecting every six months. You do a, you do quarterly, which is a bit different and you’re also bringing the, the owners round. That’s something I never did as a, as a landlord. I never went around. I just left it to my, to my property managers. But after seeing you do that, I now do that myself. I, uh, I, you know, I go with my property manager, inspect my property. So that’s a, that’s a, I think that’s a good way because you get to see the face of the faceless landlord, which is, which is good too. I like it.
Yeah. I think it ends all about transparency, isn’t it? Oh, absolutely. Yes. And I think too, it’s important to have everybody on the same page, making sure that, you know, not only as the landlord happy with the property, but also the tenant is happy with the property because it lives there. They treat it like their home. The home that you have is just immaculate. There’s no blade of grass that is out of price. There’s no, you know, the floors you could eat off. Everything is so clean and immaculate and we’re very lucky to have tenants like drew that do such a great job. So we really appreciate your tenancy.
Thank you. Yeah, no, I just, I, I met, I met, I met the new, the new, um, the new resident across the road the other day and we’re discussing this. She was ordering her loan and I said, I don’t want to be that tenant that, that rental across the road that has as weeds and grass and everything everywhere. It looks like a rental, you know what I mean? You got me on the straight and straight with all of owner occupiers and they very, very house proud. I don’t know, I don’t really want to be that guy. So
yeah. Now I think we’re very lucky. We’ve got a lot of great dentists like yourself that do look after the properties and we have no problems that inspections when we do the quarterly inspections and I’m very pleased to have you on the team, so thank you. Yeah,
there anything? I don’t have horses. I don’t have a dog, so I don’t feature in a Tuesday dog.
The top dog and which we have cats. Yeah. Well we could probably take a photograph of a stuffed dog. Wait, we’re not all inclusive. We’re pet friendly, all inclusive. Whether they’re soft or not, so um, you know, it’s, it’s all good. Happy to play that. Every Tuesday we put a what drew’s referring to, we’ve put a top dog up, a photograph in the facebook page and it’s just a different pits that I get to meet on the inspections that we do and we have anything from birds to rabbits, Guinea pigs to dogs and cats and pigs and sheep and cows and birds. Yeah. Everything. So definitely lots of fun and lots of smiles as a result of meeting all their animals. Yeah.
Interesting. You’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got David sitting on your shoulder there.
Hello? David? Yes. No, David’s. I’m lucky enough to have him. I really like your mum and dad actually bought him for me when I had another property and I’ve just bought in with me. I couldn’t bear to leave him at the property that it was bought for so east. It’s proudly in the garden of the office and um, keeps me safe. So that’s a good thing. So tell me, is there anything, like if somebody wanted to become an air traffic controller, let’s get back to your original vocation, what would they have to do? How would they, who would they get in contact with? What do they need to do?
The, the, the primary guy to recruiting basically. Uh, I’m not quite sure where they’re recruiting centers are around round Sydney. Clearly there’d be one in town somewhere and I think there’s some inherent matter and parents as well, but a lot of it’s online as well. So it’s just a basic. It’s basically a case of the recruiting will direct you towards, um, uh, to do stuff that tests your capability to do the job because not everybody can do the job. Uh, so that will be, do, doing some sort of testing to, for capability and if you pass those tests then they will, they’ll start the ball rolling and you go through other things such as psychology testing. I’m board testing for officer qualities, that kind of stuff. So, um, it, it’s a bit, I think it takes a while. I haven’t been through that for a while, but talking to my younger peers and seeing what they’ve been through.
Uh, it, it, uh, it, there is a process. Yeah, there’s a lot, a lot of testing for, for, to see whether you’re suitable. And then of course there are two ways you can come in. You can either come in as a direct entrance as I need a or a this quite a few that I work with at the moment who are, um, ad for graduates. So if, uh, if there’s a student, if you know somebody has got a student that they’re looking at sort of year 11 and 12 and they are considering a degree and I want to do something in aviation, I’m, I’m either against a great deal. Yeah, you gotta you gotTa high degrees, not afraid degree because you actually get paid to do it and you don’t come out with a hex debt and you got a job to do at the end of it. So because she knows how you come out with a degree and it can be anything. Because I work with a girl who’s got a chemistry and geography degree and I work with guys that have aviation degrees and that kind of stuff. So they originally diverse dude straight from aviation science degrees and a at the end of it they do their initial employment training the nine months down at styled, doing their air traffic control training.
And tell me what’s the mix of miles versus females. I mean you obviously will work cohesively together, but is there a higher percentage of miles I would expect in that sort of a role
or is that control it force has been one of those domains. Certainly since I’ve been in it that has a high proportion of women mainly. Yes. Yeah, I’ve worked in. It was, in fact it was funny you funny because I was talking to mentioned to a friend the other day how when I’ve. Even though when I first started in, in, in, in uh, in the role 30 odd years ago, I worked in, in areas where they had built the buildings in the, in the, in the seventies when there wasn’t this large female presence. And it goes, the trouble with those is that there was a large male toilet and a locker room and showers and everything, and there was one female toilet toilet. Of course that’s all changed now, but certainly I think the percentage is about 35 to 40 percent women in air traffic control. But I’ve certainly worked in sections where it’s been hard in that certainly when I first got to Williamtown in the, uh, in the early nineties. So it’s 50 slash 50.
Wow. And is there a particular skillset that you would need to have, whether it’s detail or whether it’s, you know, something else that you think is really important. If somebody was thinking about becoming an air traffic controller, I’m wanting to study what key elements would they need to have to be a great air traffic controller?
The biggest thing is being able to establish and develop a mental picture, spatial awareness of mental picture of what’s going on. If you, if you can think in three dimensions, then you won’t do the job. So it’s a case of taking all the different inputs, whether it be from a radar screen or from looking at a window or from the or from the radio calls that you get, developing some sort of picture in your mind as to where everybody is and then making sure that you either don’t let them get near each other or you tell them where each other is so they can look out for themselves, depending on what sort of flight rules, fine by. So, um, and it’s also made your calculation. For example, if you’re trying to sequence aircraft and they want a crop, you’re doing three or four miles a minute.
We work in malls, in, in ideation, nautical miles, and one’s doing to Mars and make united the guy doing three or four miles minutes going to be just doing the fastest. But if he’s got twice the distance, you’re going to be in the same place at the same time. So while they might, one might be 20 miles north, the other one might be 10 miles south. In three or four minutes, you’re going to be in the same place. So you’ve got to develop the ability to see that that’s going to happen. So you need to put in place some sort of separation standard.
Yeah. That’s really fascinating because it’s so true to be able to think on your feet and to be able to assess what’s going to happen and how things are going to pan because you know, I’ve seen a lot of close calls on youtube of different planes going from one place to another and there must be a great deal of pressure on you as an air traffic controller to get it right.
Yeah. Well the thing about where I would like to, to uh, I like to try to relate paypal’s youtube, it is, they trying to control is a lot like driving your car, except there’s a third dimension. So it’s kind of like if you’ve ever watched the jetsons, how now the jetsons get around in, in flying vehicles. It’s kind of like that because you’re not driving on the road anymore. Were you actually driving in three dimensions? The road? Certainly do have, you know, there is this, the road trip road. So you generally can’t deviate off the road to go where you want so that you don’t have to add that randomness you do in the air. Um, but, uh, but there are rules. Sign was on the road, you know, you give it to the right, you stop at Red Lights and that kind of stuff. Same thing happens in the aviation world.
The big difference of course is that in a place like, like an airfield like Richmond, we have HIV. Can Charles that had that, that extra safety dimension because generally the pilots are flying, has said that they find a lot faster but don’t have the kind of visibility out of Saudia cargo aircraft, cockpit that I dropped her brother does. So there’s, that’s why we have the attractive jobs. Having said that though, there are a lot of places around Australia and the world where, um, there isn’t a air traffic control for Jabil. Yeah, you’ll go to if you fly, if you, for example, to um, to the west of Bathurst for example, is no hop trial at bathurst orange. And so aircraft going do, they will fly into the air and do the same sort of procedures that you do on the road and you sought each other out, but by looking out for each other and talking to each other on the radio,
that’s really interesting that, um, there is no traffic control down at those sort of, um, country locations, but you can understand it because they wouldn’t be as much. Um, you know, as many planes coming in and touching base. So I suppose, you know, it’s a cost thing as well. It would be very expensive.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s a cost benefit thing, you know, it’s, it depends on some places have, it depends on how long you had the air traffic control going forward as well during the day. Some places, for example, coffs harbor has the attempt to try to thinking about, I don’t know, announced a date and it just covers the regular public transport aircraft coming in and out. Whereas you get more any Melbourne, Brisbane, which are 24 hours a day.
Yeah, right. Tell me the photograph that you sent through for the. The actual broadcast is in front of a search and rescue helicopter, I believe. Would that be right? And if you could tell us a little bit about that and during uniform at that time.
Sure. Um, I, um, I’m still in uniform as a reservist. I, I’m a reserve air force person as well, so I do occasionally do reserve work. That photograph was taken at Williamtown and williamtown like all of the basis that have a aircraft that have ejection capability have I a contracted search and rescue capabilities. Well, so the aircraft you saw there is a 60 year, 76 helicopter that is completely filled out for, uh, for search and rescue. So it’s got all, a lot of the infrared and it’s got a big, a big bright light on the front of it. It’s got all different kinds of radios but also has a billion back for taking leaders, has a winter and that kind of stuff. So they have them located in a place like Emily William Chan style piece and they had an agenda as well. And I go to where the, if there’s an exercise on where they’ve got horns or pc nines or hawks who are objection, capable aircraft, they had the search and rescue helicopters as well. So part of my role when I was at Williamtown, uh, I was a part of my role, whether it was to be involved with the search and rescue helicopter managing, helping them manage that contract.
And now you’re out of uniform in the role that you play. You’re the, um, what the air force did is that they decided they needed a little bit of, um, of a continuity and experience and they weren’t getting that because the, the HIV controllers have a career stream in uniform, I tell stream. So they either want to go backwards or they want to go off and join the air services and getting paid a lot more money and not get posted. And so places like Richmond were uniform. Air traffic controllers will come in, they’ll do work for the posting. Life is about four or five years. And then they’ll get posted somewhere else or they’ll get promoted and go and do some sort of staff job. So they needed a little bit more continuity in corporate knowledge in certain places like Richmond because they weren’t getting it.
So I wanted, I decided to do was employ some of the ex uniform people to come back and we were a public servants. We are employed by the department of Ed says public servants, but we’re ex military air traffic controllers and we do exactly the same job as the, we do exactly the same jumpsuit, uniform equivalence except most of the 30 something years of experience. And uh, we are supervisors and training officers as well. So a lot of the lot of people we get, a lot of the junior had controls. We get to Richmond for example, generally don’t make training option supervisor level before they posted somewhere else. Uh, and that’s where we’re at at Richmond. We have five, a public servant staff, air traffic control staff that provide that continuity and corporate knowledge.
And I think he’s said, you know, it’s really important to have that continuity because in any business, you know, in real estate, I mean, I was talking to Joanne who is the agency manager for my business and we, we worked out the other day. We’d been working together for nearly 25 years and um, it’s a long time and there’s a lot of things that you share in that time and you could almost finish one another’s sentences. Joanne, for those of you that don’t know, she’s actually my sister in law. So, um, you know, she looks after my brother very well and they’ve got a beautiful family that live in Portland, but she works beside me in what she does. And um, you know, it’s a very cohesive situation within work because I think you get to know what’s, what the next step is, what their thoughts are. But also for the new people coming on, like you said, there’s that continuity. They’re able to try and they’re able to assist and they know what your thoughts are in regards to certain, you know, things that you or processes that you do within the office. So it’s great to have that continuity for the RAF base and um, to have the knowledge from yourself to be passed through the ranks as it was
and you tend to, you tend to be the, the, the, not so much the limiting factor, but sort of the new people are very keen and have their good ideas and stuff, but you don’t want to reinvent wheels as well. That’s people kind of let’s do it this way. You Go, well, we tried that six years ago and this is what happened. So yes, try that if you like, but be aware that there are limitations in what you’re trying to do. Yeah. You know what I mean? The stick in the mud here, what you want to have innovation, but you also want to be a, a temporary factor.
Yeah. I really liked that, that concept to be able to, to have that there and try new things, but also look at what’s already the tried and true that’s already working and I’m trying not to reinvent the wheel too often, but just sort of tech when the wind is a little bit lower and make sure you’re hitting in the right path.
Yeah. Well the other thing too course with us is because we had the experience, um, if things get a little bit frantic as I occasionally do, we because a lot of, we turned it over before we, we don’t, we tend not to get us. Well, that’s our job, not to get fired. He can and we are that temporary influence, particularly the younger people with when I do get a little bit overwhelmed,
yes, you’d hold it together and make sure that they were steady oncourse. And um, I think too, having the backing of somebody that knows what they’re talking about and has the experience to be able to make that judgment call. Obviously they’re in there, the Hellman and trying to do the right thing, but if they’ve got that confidence, if somebody like yourself behind them going, yep, that’s the right, the right decision to make there or know, yes, bring them in at this angle or you know, that’s the, the weather conditions on the day and you can have learned in this particular way. I think that’s great.
That’s an example. The other day. We’re, the last sort of week has been brilliant. Autumn weather where there’s hardly been a breath of wind and the selection of the runway is the wind dependent. You want the wind blowing into the nose of the airplane. And uh, my junior colleague was watching it very because the wind here vary so much between a sandwich. The runway at Richmond is a sweat, so goes eastover, windsor or West over Richmond. And we were just watching the wind indicator vary between east and west. Old Guy. And he was trying to chase the wind as to the selection of the runway. And I just smiled and said, okay, I’ll let you do that. And then after, after you changed around my, about three, four times, I said just leave it there, just leave it and, and when the aircraft comes in or goes out, we’ll decide at that particular time and looked at me and says, that’s a good idea. Why don’t we do that?
That’s great. Well listen, we’ll leave on my favorite airplane when it goes overhead. The 17 tell me. It just has such a great presence. You see it in the sky coming from a distance, it’s almost hanging there and suspended. But it’s such a big plane. I mean, how big is it? What’s the wingspan and what’s the weight of it? And what’s the furthest. I know we touched on it slightly before, but it seems to be. I don’t know what it is, but I just love that flying.
Its wingspan from tip to tip is about 53 meters. And why I say 53 is because if it’s more than 54, we have to treat it differently at Richmond because of the limitations. So it’s just under 54 meters from wingtip to wingtip. So we’re talking half a half a rugby league football field length from wingtip to wingtip. Um, it’s about 200 times. So it’s a very big airplane, but, um, because it’s got such powerful engines, uh, it, the runway, William, sorry, Richmond is only about 2000 meters long, 2,100 meters long, so it’s just over two kilometers you’re applying can quite comfortably land on, on that runway. Um, and pull up within about a third of that, the to do the runway lengths, 2,100 meters. So it’s just out of two kilometers. So let’s say 17 landing depending on its white, will pull up in about sort of a thousand meters.
I’ve actually seen the Americans because the Americans come in here once a week as well, uh, from Guam and the character alice springs, they, um, the Chinese designers, I, as I said to you earlier, applying to flying John Light airfields and, and on short runways. And sometimes I like to practice it and I’ve actually seen an American 17 coming in and coming in over the top of Richmond land right at the front of the runway. And side of the runway and he’s pulled it up in about what are they in about. I hired a maintenance, so he’s taken this chartered airplane and doing about 240 ks an hour and he’s pulled it up in about 800. Made it so you know, in, in, in just over a couple of football, football field linked. So it’s pretty amazing airplane because it’s got the power to get it off the ground, but it’s also got the power when it lands to put it into full thrust and,
and uh, and pull it up really quickly and I presume it would take the pilot, you know, the skill pilots and be able to do that as well. Um, to pull it out. So yeah. No, that’s terrific. Well, it’s been. The whole interview has been fascinating for me. I hope everybody else’s enjoyed listening to drew talk about his career and the air force and what I’m, the ref base does and what it is like being an air traffic controller. I really appreciate your time coming on the show today, drew, and I’m looking forward to catching up with you at the next routine inspection. That way. Well, you might an impact because that’s next week and I’ll be in Maldives. Ah, yes. Okay. Just rather than that a little bit for everybody online, are we is going to the all. Yeah. You’ll have to let yourself eating. No, no troubles at all. We’ll have a fabulous time in the old days. Thank you for everybody being online and we’ll catch up with everybody on the next episode. Bye for now. Bye.
Thank you so much for taking time out listening to today’s episode. If you have any questions on the process of buying, selling, leasing, or strata management, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Be sure to subscribe on itunes and I’d really appreciate it if you could spread the word by liking and sharing this episode with your family and friends. I’m Rachael Goldsworthy and I look forward to catching up with you on the next episode of The Drive Home to Hawkesbury.