Isle of Man Air Traffic Control
 1937  -  2012     75 Years of ATC
The Ronaldsway Air Traffic Control Pages
I started working for the UK Civil Aviation Authority in Air Traffic Control after leaving school in 1973 and stayed in it until I retired. My first posting was to the London Air Traffic Control Centre in West Drayton where I worked as an Air Traffic Control Assistant. In 1976 I moved 'down the road' to the control Tower at Heathrow Airport and it was from here that I was promoted to Air Traffic Control Cadet and started training at the ATC college located at Bournemouth Hurn Airport. During my cadetship I worked for periods of time at Cardiff Wales Airport, the training section at Heathrow, Liverpool Airport, then back to Heathrow in Aerodrome Control before finally being posted to Prestwick Airport in Scotland where I worked until parting company with the CAA and coming to the Isle of Man in 1990 to work for the IOM Government at Ronaldsway, the island's airport. I retired from ATC at Ronaldsway in September 2014.
Heathrow - 1970s
Liverpool Tower - 1980
Last day working in ATC at Ronaldsway, September 2014
I first became interested in the history of ATC at Ronaldsway when I discovered a set of official photographs taken of the facilities at Ronaldsway in the 1960s. I produced a set of web pages for my 'Island Images' website to show a little of the history and current operations, but it was only when I realised that we were going to be 75 years old in 2012 that I started to do more research into the past. I've managed to discover a huge amount of information and have attempted to share it via these pages. Sometimes I've had to do a little 'reading between the lines' so any corrections to assumptions made would be very welcome from readers.
From the official set of pictures taken in 1963
In July 2012, Civil Air Traffic Control at Ronaldsway celebrated  75 years of continuous service, from 1937 all through the war years until the present day. Starting in a wooden building on the then grass airfield, to a temporary location during the last few years of the war before moving into the 1944 built Royal Navy control tower in 1946. In 2010 a new modern control tower came into operation and the 1944 tower was vacated and later demolished.
ATC Watch Office - 1930s
Control Tower - 2010
What I have attempted to do here is to provide a history of Air Traffic Control operations at Ronaldsway. In many ways this is a general history of Air Traffic Control in the United Kingdom (although the isle of Man is in fact not part of the UK) as by the time ATC was established at Ronaldsway in 1937, a standard set of rules and procedures had been produced and applied throughout the British Isles. During World War Two, almost all civil ATC was taken over by the military, but despite the airfield being requisitioned and operated first by the RAF and then the Royal Navy, the civil controllers continued providing a service to the essential air link that operated between Liverpool, the Isle of Man and Belfast.
M/F Direction Finding - 1940s
ATC Surveillance Display - 2012
The Ronaldsway Air Traffic Control Pages

Information Sources
I couldn't have produced these pages without the help of numerous books and publications, some that deserve particular mention are:
The 'Flight Global' on line magazine archive - A fantastic source of articles covering the history of ATC in the UK.
Manx Aviation in War and Peace by Gordon Kniveton - My original source of historical information about Ronaldsway
Isle of Man 20th Century Military Archaeology by Paul Francis - Full of fascinating information from the wartime years
Cumbria Airfields in the Second World War by Martyn Chorlton - includes lots of IOM aviation history
Watching the Skies by Jack Gough - the official history of British radar in Air Defence and ATC
Special thanks go to Phil Pain, Ronaldsway Airport Director (retired) who sowed the seeds of an idea. Also huge thanks to John Woodside, Air Traffic Control Assistant (retired) for rescuing some of the old ATC log books that were being destroyed, without them this history would have been so much thinner!
Disclaimer - Please note that these pages are an entirely personal study of ATC at Ronaldsway.
 Unless otherwise credited, all pictures on this website are  © Jon Wornham
Any correction and additions to the information contained here would be gratefully received!
 Contact me. Any pictures/charts that could be loaned would be much appreciated
Island Images Website
Island Images Aircraft