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Long downwind leg to EGLL 22/2/05?

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Long downwind leg to EGLL 22/2/05?

Old 22nd Feb 2005, 19:19
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Long downwind leg to EGLL 22/2/05?

Was in the Reading area today and noticed aircraft being vectored onto the localizer/final approach track for (presumably) 9L at Heathrow a little to the west of the town. I haven't seen this happen so far west before so was just wondering how much farther out could aircraft be vectored before making the base turn and was there anything particularly unusual about what I saw today? I suppose there are conflict issues once you get further out towards Compton. Would appreciate any words of wisdom from the top ATC chaps.
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Old 22nd Feb 2005, 19:48
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I believe an aircraft had a minor problem and was given a priority approach and was slotted in ahead of others. Hence a slightly extended approached path for other aircraft behind. No big deal to anyone in ATC and I bet the aircraft concerned would not have noticed!
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Old 22nd Feb 2005, 19:51
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Ahhhh, the well known 'Swindon snatch'!
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Old 22nd Feb 2005, 19:55
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I was working on the sector next to LL approach this morning and the aircraft were vectored wide to allow plane with a medical emergency to make a priority approach from the North.

As long as Heathrow boys and girls stay inside controlled airspace and coordinate with TMA it is not a problem to go beyong the usual radar vectoring area.

......."beyong" a top secret ATC term!!
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Old 22nd Feb 2005, 20:01
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As long as it's not another Mike Romeo!
Old 22nd Feb 2005, 20:38
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Reading is only a 20 mile (or so) final to 9L - the normal turn is only just east of the town from my experience.
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Old 22nd Feb 2005, 20:54
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Mike Romeo?? More Please!
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Old 22nd Feb 2005, 21:56
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At the risk of pre-empting HD, Years ago an inbound to Heathrow on downwind (was it a Trident or 1-11? Mike Romeo suggests a 1-11) was 'forgotten' by the director, sailed off for miles and miles in the wrong direction, and subsequent to that it always got a priority service into Heathrow because ATC felt sorry for it! I even hear that clever crews who had heard the story used to falsely claim they were MR!
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Old 22nd Feb 2005, 23:30
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definitely 1-11....
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Old 23rd Feb 2005, 08:08
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What a delicious story, one I hadn't heard before. Great!!

While we're in nostalgia mode and talking about Tridents, I do recall observing, whilst bimbling about on the airfield, a Trident on short final for 27L (might even have been 28L) The a/c in front was having a little difficulty vacating & the Trident crew were offered a go-around or a change to the northern side. They chose the latter, crossing the Maintenance Area at an angle of 45 deg, acquiring the centreline over the Eastchurch Road and levelling wings in the flare. The Trident was just so amazingly manoeuvrable, although you wouldn't think so from its ground-hugging departure characteristics.

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Old 23rd Feb 2005, 10:43
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Ahhhh, the well known 'Swindon snatch'!
I thought that was Melinda Messenger!
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Old 23rd Feb 2005, 17:07
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Thanks for that chaps. I was a bit further east today and saw that the garrulous residents of Henley were getting a good earful of the various RRs, GEs and P&Ws on the base turn today which, as someone said, is a bit more like normal. And what with that lorry that broke down by the river snarling up the town's traffic for a couple of hours, they had even more to complain to Boris Johnson about today!
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Old 24th Feb 2005, 21:25
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The Legend of G-AVMR

(note: Although around at the time I am not the author of this amusing story. But I know a man who is. He won't mind it being told again....)


This will bring a few tears of laughter, joy and nostalgia to those who were heavily involved in this long-lasting story at Heathrow many years ago. As with all aviation tales there have been numerous versions of this story but this is the true, unexpurgated version by one of the Heathrow ATC stalwarts - one of the best story tellers in the business. He knows - he was there! Funnily enough his name is - - Mike Romeo!!! Enjoy..

Having seen in late 2000 that the BAC-111 G-AVMR had been withdrawn from use I thought it was about time that the definitive story of this infamous 1-11 was aired.

I was the Heathrow North Radar Director when G-AVMR (the "County of Tyne and Wear") was instructed to leave BNN heading 250o for an approach to runway 10L. It was a shuttle standby that day, hence the callsign. I dropped him to 3000 feet and handed him to the No.2 Director - Mr AW (no longer in ATC). Many, many minutes later Tony, having the flight progress strip in front of him, deigned to contact Mike Romeo but there was no reply. Then came the chilling words: "Mike Romeo, where is he? He's not talking to me". Being the final director he had a short range set up on his radar display and Mike Romeo has gone "off the screen" and it was apparent that I had not transferred the aircraft to the No.2 Director. I scanned my radar from Booker... to Henley... to Reading and westwards... there he was, happy as a sand-boy, heading 250o at 3000 feet and way below CAS. Lyneham were getting interested....!

That feeling that engulfs you took over and I wondered if I could speak without trembling. Worse still - could he still hear me? "Golf Mike Romeo, turn left heading 070o, you'll just go through in the turn, and establish on 10L". He read the whole lot back without question - I couldn't believe it. "Can we descend with the ILS?" he said. "Affirmative" I agree, not adding that he'll hit the glidepath in about ten minutes time! I reckon about 5 or 6 aircraft had beaten him and turned onto the ILS before him. On that day 15-20 years ago a pact was made - Mike Romeo would never suffer again and AW and I were the original co-chairmen of the Mike Romeo Fan Club.

Whenever Mike Romeo was inbound or outbound to/from EGLL and A Watch was on duty we looked after him; some other watches sort of looked after him although some really poo-poohed the whole idea.

Inbound with the stand allocation system (BASIS) a callsign could be easily converted into a registration. Outbound our "brill" binoculars were essential but our highly trained lighting operators could easily pick out the "County of Tyne and Wear" even in LVPs!

I still recall GMC one dark night really "going it" and desperately trying to hang on - -"Ground, Speedbird 925 vacating 28L following the greens". I gave the usual reply: "925 follow the greens, right on the inner, stand will be B25 but it's occupied and the outbound hasn't started yet". The evening gridlock was building nicely: should get a mention in the Capital Radio traffic report! I looked out of the window and saw a 1-11 doing as I'd asked,then I looked at the BASIS - "BA925 - G-AVMR - HOLD B15". Composing myself I intercomed my lighting operator, who was working harder than me: "That 925 is Mike Romeo; see what you can do". Now this LO was trained to drop everything when Mike Romeo was around and he immediately asked Apron Control if there was an alternative stand for 925.. Apron were really good about it, especially on our watch, and they risked life and limb for this cause - especially that night. "Give him H34" the LO shouted.. "Speedbird 925, next right, follow the greens, new stand Hotel 34", I said. "Err 925, we're a 1-11 and we think we're for the Bravos or Charlies". I retorted: "You're Mike Romeo are you not?" "Yes, but, errr...." he stumbled. "Then it's definitely Hotel 34". The 1-11 ambled into the Hotel stands and parked amidst the long-haul Tristars and 707s. Job done but BA were cursing - one of their 1-11s had parked in the Hotels and there was a big, big bussing problem!

It was similar outbound... He often had the usual boring slot time.. but that was easily overcome...

The pilots never quite understood; they knew there were big perks to be had when flying Mike Romeo but they were not sure why. When there were inbound delays and they were told to hold they would tentatively say "If we say we're Mike Romeo would it help?" Would it help??? "Return to LAM and leave heading 270o" was the standard reply. Of course, it was known for some naughty pilots flying other 1-11s to ask the same question and get the same priority. Once this happened and the crew thought they'd got away with it... until the real Mike Romeo piped up with "But WE are Mike Romeo". The offending crew was severely rebuked and told if they did it again they would be diverted!

E Watch had their monkey at London Zoo; we had our boring but lovely 1-11. Happy Days. I was actually presented with a little plastic Mike Romeo on my 50th. It's treasured and flown on hairy circuits by my grandchildren. I pretend not to worry - but I do.

Some of us oldies have kept tabs on Mike Romeo at Hurn. I've personally illegally stumbled on it at the back of the European hangar in OKADA colours but when I saw that it was permanently withdrawn from use last Nov/Dec I realised that it was the end of an era.

THANK YOU all those fellow controllers at EGLL who participated. You will all be remembered, never fear.
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Old 24th Feb 2005, 22:07
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You'll be pleased to know that the memory of "Mike Romeo" lives on. A now retired Heathrow controller with the initials "AC" was presented at his retirement do with the control column and full reg from the airframe, which I believe has been scrapped.
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Old 24th Feb 2005, 23:44
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Sitting P3 in a Trident, with the Chief Pilot flying the aircraft and P2 doing the radio....

Approaching Westcott (correct spelling?) eventually for 09L P2 asks "any chance of a Westcott snatch?". "Looking good" was the reply from ATC.

Sir, after pondering for a few seconds, turns to P2, not knowing what a "snatch" was and asks "would that involve a heading?"

Without a pause P2 inquires of ATC "Will it be the standard snatch heading?" "Afirm" ATC suggests.

Sir is now not at all sure what is happening, again turning to P2. "What sort of speed will they want?"

P2 again inquires "and the speed?" "Standard Snatch Speeds" from ATC.

Sir, now not at all sure what will unfold plays his trump card, turning to P2 "Actually it's a while since I did a snatch, perhaps you could demonstrate one for me" and switches the compass control switch to Starboard.

P2 lost out on his planned landing, Sir did it!

By the way who will be the first to remember what Bovingdon used to be called?
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Old 25th Feb 2005, 07:53
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Do you mean RAF Bovingdon 'Chesham International' aerodrome, or Bovingdon VOR (previously GARston previously LEAvesden 112.3M/cs located Leavesden Aerodrome) or Bovingdon ATC Sector 126.3 M/cs ?????
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Old 25th Feb 2005, 08:22
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<<By the way who will be the first to remember what Bovingdon used to be called?>>

My memory goes back further than my esteemed colleague.. How about Watford NDB, coding MYW?? This was not far from RAF (USAF) Bovingdon, whose GCA was a very weird 140.76, or something similar up in the X-Ray spectrum..
Old 25th Feb 2005, 08:50
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Bren, I think you and I need to be pensioned off to our own sad little thread on the nostalgia forum forever.....

WATford? I lived under it, the NDB (279 K/cs) was round the back of the Peugeot garage at Round Bush. At that time EGWX GCA was 130.7 or 117.9, a shared freq, tricky for Talkdown, although as you say they must've had an Xray discrete freq. Northolt were the funny ones, GCA 104.49, 116.46,132.84......

OK,ok, I do concede I had forgotten MYW, as I have also forgotten the Heathrow NBD 'Mike' coding. I can remember Bushmills MWN so must've been at Redbrae at the time......
Nerd, indeed, I am sure you in particular would like to see my 1959 Blackbushe approach plates. Or etchings.

Nurse, nurse, it's time for my medicine......
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Old 25th Feb 2005, 09:16
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Just looked in a old logbook and found my first flight in 'MR back in August 1987! Flew her to FRA and back just after joining the "Super 1-11" fleet. Spent many a happy hour in her (and the others) until '91 when I converted to Boeings.

Took my son the the Aerospace museum at Cosford a couple of years ago. They had an open cockpit day so we went straight to the ex BA 1-11 (G-AVMO) preserved there. Went inside and told my lad not to mention that I had flown this particular machine on many occasions - just wanted a quick look for old times sake. What did he say to the curator proudly sat in the left seat? "My Dad's a BA Captain and this was his plane!"

We were there for hours.............
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Old 25th Feb 2005, 21:40
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To hear the Mike Romeo story straight from the horse's mouth, at AC's retirement do click here (Mp3 file - 1.8MB)
Brings tears to my eyes everytime I listen to it - and thanks for the mention ACE!
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