Isle of Man ATC in the 1980s
Island Images
 ATC in the 1970s          ATC in the 1990s
Airspace around the Isle of Man
The Airways and Advisory routes around the Isle of Man remained much as in the late 1970s, under the control of Manchester Centre, although Delta White 11 had now been re-aligned via the 'IOM' VOR. The old airway 75 KHz Marker Beacons originally associated with the Radio Ranges had gone and the NDBs backing up the VOR/DMEs started to disappear, although on the 1982 Airways Chart there is still an NDB at Cregneash coding 'IOM' on 391 KHz. Of interest on the topographical chart is the the Jurby bombing range D404 has expanded and is shown active up to 11,000 ft, occasionally 20,000ft. The Eskmeals gunnery range D406 has 'grown' its first westerly extension towards the Isle of Man, D406B. Ronaldsway's Control Zone has been reduced to the southwest but gained three small Control Areas to the southeast by airway Red Three, probably as a consequence of the base level of the airway being raised to Flight Level 50. This would allow non pressurized aircraft to use a lower descent rate for the comfort of passengers.
Airways Chart from 1982
Topographical Chart from 1984
RAF Airways chart from 1985
1982 Airfield Diagram
Operating with three runways giving six landing directions, 27/09, 22/04 and 18/36. The former runway 31/13 formed the Central Taxiway.
Ronaldsway Radar Upgraded
In the early 1980s the AR-1 radar installed in 1966 was given a major upgrade, essentially making it into an AR-15. A new metal radar desk was built to accommodate larger displays, the wooden 'Approach' section of the old Approach/Radar desk being incorporated. 
Ronaldsway AR-1 console pre-upgrade
The new radar desk under construction
(Above pictures courtesy N. Wilshaw)
Around this time another radio frequency was allocated to Ronaldsway, 125.3 MHz. This enabled a total of four operational positions to be active at the same time on busy TT Race days. For the morning inbound rush, Approach on 120.85, Radar 1 on 118.2 and Radar 2 on 125.3 operational in the radar room with Tower on 118.9. For the evening departure rush, Ground Movement Control on 118.9 and Air Control on 125.3 in the Tower and Approach on 120.85 with Radar 1 on 118.2 'downstairs'.
Ronaldsway New Radar Desk
The new metal desk with larger radar displays
'Santa Claus' seems to be controlling at Rad 2
(From an ATC Christmas card!)
There were four operational positions provided on the new Approach/Radar desk; on the right of the desk was the Approach Assistant, with the Procedural Approach controller to his left. Next to him was the Radar One position with Radar Two on the far left of the desk. Apart from the larger displays, the major improvement from the radar controllers perspective was that the displays now had 'Video Mapping'. This produced a map of the airways and reporting points on the radar display, together with final approach tracks marked with distances from touchdown for runways 27/09,  04 and 36.  The final approach track was not provided for runways 18 or 21 as there were no instrument approaches to these runways. A coastline map was also provided for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, but not for the Isle of Man - apparently it was considered that it would clutter the display.
Phosphor Radar Display
Similar to the displays used at Ronaldsway
with the upgraded AR-1 radar. Video mapping
to show controlled airspace boundaries.
This actual display was installed at Prestwick Airport, Scotland
When an inbound flight was within about 50 miles from Ronaldsway the Manchester Centre controller would call approach by phone and request an inbound level and clearance limit. If there was no conflicting traffic Approach might clear the aircraft to a relevant holding facility, e.g. CAR or IOM at 3000 ft altitude and pass the Ronaldsway QNH (pressure setting to indicate height above sea level). The Manchester controller would read the clearance back and add the release point, e.g.  'Released passing Flight Level Niner Zero'  When the aircraft was transferred by Manchester and checked in with Ronaldsway  on 120.85, the Approach controller would confirm the procedural clearance and pass the latest weather report and runway in use. If the flight was to be radar vectored he would usually then hand the Flight Progress Strip to the radar controller, effectively transferring control. Under normal circumstances both Approach and Radar 1 controllers would use frequency 120.85, Radar 2 being opened on 118.2 only in busy traffic situations.
Radar Identifying and Vectoring the Aircraft
The radar controller would have used the VHF Radio Direction Finder (D/F) to select one of the various 'blips' on his radar display as the most likely candidate for the aircraft whilst it was talking to Approach but then had to formally identify the aircraft using one of several methods. Probably the easiest was to ask for a 'Radial and DME from the IOM'. The pilot would respond with, for instance, 'IOM 130 radial at 33 miles' and the controller would check that this corresponded with a blip on the radar display, making sure that there were no others it could be confused with. The other common method used was to identify by turning the aircraft. Having observed the likely blip for a period of time and confirmed the aircraft heading with the pilot, the controller would instruct a turn to the left or right of at least 30 degrees and then check that the selected blip had indeed turned after the pilot confirmed steady on the new heading. After identification by this method, the pilot had to be informed of his position as observed on radar, this was a 'cross check' that the correct blip had been identified. 
The Identificaction Turn - if possible towards final approach
If for any reason the blip was not identified, the pilot would be informed and instructed to resume his own navigation. Other methods that could be used were a position report over a published Reporting Point or a 'Radar Handover' where another unit would confirm the identity of the aircraft using a common reference point marked on both radar displays. Following identification the controller could vector the aircraft, usually to the Instrument Landing System (ILS) on runway 27 or for a Surveillance Radar Approach (SRA) to runway 09 or 04.
Flight Progress Strips
All flights had a Flight Progress strip prepared, which were colour coded, Blue for departures, Buff for arrivals, Green for local flights and Pink for overflights. Originally the strips were all hand-written but Senior Air Traffic Control Officer Dave Jeffers devised a system for printing the Flight Progress Strips onto coloured card using a 'BBC' home computer. This was not a 'live' system as strips were only printed in advance for the known scheduled flights of the day, any other flights still had hand written strips. Some example strips are below, preserved as they had been attached to 'Occurrence Reports' for various incidents and retained on file. Normally the strips were only saved for one month. 
Outbound Flight Progress Strip for Manx 501, a Viscount to Liverpool (returned with engine fire)
Inbound flight Progress Strip - Manx 324, a Short 360 from Manchester
Local Flight Progress Strip - G-ATRR a Piper Cherokee (Returned with an emergency)
Overflight Flight Progress Strip - RAF Tornado 'G4X24' from Scampton to Coningsby
The Control Tower Accommodation Expanded
About 1983 a further annexe was added to the tower, this time to the eastern end of the radar room. 
A proper fire escape was also added to the building, replacing the former vertical ladders.
Control Tower in 1980
RAF AEW Avro Shackleton
Control Tower in 1983
Spacegrand Twin Otter G-BGMD 
Radar Turning Gear Replaced
Right at the end of the decade in 1989, the radar turning gear needed replaced, necessitating the removal of the radar scanner and 
reversion to Procedural Approach service whilst the work was taking place.
Crane for removing the Radar Scanner
AR-1 Radar Aerial at ground level
ATC in the 1990s
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