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LUTON History and Nostalgia

Old 2nd Oct 2016, 16:14
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Well spotted young man! 1975
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Old 6th Oct 2016, 16:05
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Airline callsigns

Don't know if anyone can help with this one. Back in 1968 when I bought my first airband radio, there were still a few airlines using the aircraft registration as the ATC callsign as opposed to the flight number. This seemed to be a mainly British phenomenon, with the only overseas carrier I remember using registrations being Sabena, which they were still doing until at least 1977. UK airlines still using registrations for ATC included, as I recall B.E.A., British Midland and British United. Monarch used flight numbers from day 1 (5th April 1968). B.O.A.C., British Eagle, Laker and Caledonian were using flight numbers. Not sure about Britannia, Channel, Invicta, Cambrian, BKS and Dan Air. The introduction of computerised systems and repetitive flight plans (RPL's) meant most carriers moved to using the flight number for ATC during the 1970's. It no doubt helped with navigation charges as well.

What I am after is further info as to other carriers who used registrations and when they switched to using flight numbers. I remember Autair used flight numbers when they switched their scheduled flights to LHR in 1969 but I think they used registrations prior to that. Did Court Line use registrations in their early days? Any info welcome.

Also can anyone confirm (or otherwise) that Sudflug who used the airport briefly during summer 1967 used the callsign "Bluebird"?

Last edited by cj241101; 6th Oct 2016 at 23:17.
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Old 6th Oct 2016, 16:28
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Court Line did indeed use registrations over the radio.
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Old 6th Oct 2016, 21:23
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Originally Posted by Level bust
Court Line did indeed use registrations over the radio.
Thanks Level Bust. I might have answered my own question if I'd perused some of my old scribblings. One sultry, summers evening in 1970 (1st June to be precise) I was at home and tuned in Luton Tower (120.2 back then) just in time to hear "Lima Oscar Romeo, cleared for take off runway 08" followed by "Court Line Mike Kilo, after the departing aircraft, a Charlie Four Six, cleared to enter, backtrack and line up runway 08". It took about 15 seconds for the bellow of the 2 P&W radial engines to reach me (home was 3 miles away) as the Fred Olsen Curtiss C-46 (LN-FOR) applied take off power. A scarce aircraft type in Europe at the best of times which I never managed to see.

Last edited by cj241101; 7th Oct 2016 at 23:30.
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Old 7th Oct 2016, 09:06
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Court Line did use registrations except for a short period in I think 1970 ( not sure why) - remember Court Line 373 being G-AWBL (recognisable by no "beep" at the end of the transmission unlike the -500s). Dan- Air were registrations (not sure when they changed- 1974 ish) and Britannia used Registrations until around 1973- they changed for some reason during a series of French ATC strikes - nothing changes!). Channel were always registrations- Midland were using registrations in 1970 and I guess they also changed in the early 70s. In 1968 Air France and BEA were using reg callsigns (Still Bealine Papa India at the sad time of the Staines crash). Pan Am used reg callsigns for charters (remember Clipper 766?) A lot of supplemental US reg callsigns I think (Saturn, Capitol etc.). BAF were reg.callsigns until T D Keegan took them over in 1972.

Pretty certain Condor 727s came in on Sunday with reg call signs as did TAROM IL-18s. The real problem for us spotters were those that didn't - did you ever find yourself at LTN in the middle of the night to "bag" an ATI DC9?

Last edited by 22/04; 7th Oct 2016 at 09:41.
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Old 7th Oct 2016, 22:39
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Originally Posted by 22/04
did you ever find yourself at LTN in the middle of the night to "bag" an ATI DC9?
Thanks 22/4, that's a big help. And, er, yes to the above, summer '75 and summer '76. At least the speccies car park was "free" that time of night....Seem to remember ATI used "ATI" as their callsign, pronouncing it "arti".
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Old 8th Oct 2016, 18:00
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Originally Posted by LTNman
I think I can just remember pleasure flights where passengers boarded via a gate in the fence by the corner of the spectators area. I can't remember who or where the money was collected through.
Back in September there was a lot of posts regarding the Pleasure Flights that operated from the spectators area - here is a photo of the corner where they operated from (a bit blurred though) - the hut is visible where you could pay and then wait for your ride - it was taken sometime in the early 70's as you can just make out a Court Line (yellow) BAC1-11 landing in the background.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 13:17
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Condor & Bavaria Germanair were still using registrations as call-signs as late as 1977
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Old 10th Oct 2016, 22:56
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Those at Luton in the 70's will well remember a tragic collision between an Aztec and a departing 1-11.

This thread has reminded me that as a plane spotting kid, presumably not that long after the accident, I walked into a hangar and amongst the other aircraft was the cabriolet PA-23, sat there as though it was perfectly normal to leave the wreckage from a fatal accident in a semi public place. What were they thinking of!
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Old 10th Oct 2016, 23:49
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Originally Posted by ZeBedie
Those at Luton in the 70's will well remember a tragic collision between an Aztec and a departing 1-11.

This thread has reminded me that as a plane spotting kid, presumably not that long after the accident, I walked into a hangar and amongst the other aircraft was the cabriolet PA-23, sat there as though it was perfectly normal to leave the wreckage from a fatal accident in a semi public place. What were they thinking of!
This happened on the 18th April 1974 - the McAlpine Aztec G-AYDE was hit by Court Line BAC1-11 G-AXMJ - the Aztec was eventually placed in the McAlpine hangar for a while - I noted it in there 31st May 1974 under covers - it was eventually purchased by Luton Flying Club Ltd for spares.
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Old 11th Oct 2016, 21:39
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It wasn't under covers when I saw it. I'm not sure, but I don't think it was the McAlpine hangar - spotters didn't generally get in there.
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Old 11th Oct 2016, 23:07
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I think people were a little less sensitive in days of yor - maybe WWII with its losses were fresh in the mind. Remember at Farnboro' in 50s when John Derry was killed Neville Duke immediately took the Hunter up - and the show went on despite crowd casualties. - similarly it went on when the Atlantique crashed in '68. Stiff upper lip. Neither would happen today - just look at Shoreham. No judgement- just fact.
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Old 11th Oct 2016, 23:19
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Now here's another challenge along the lines of that about callsigns.

When I first became interested in Luton in 1968 IIRC the frequencies were as follows;

APP 129.55 ( no change there - if it does change I think it's time for the Ravens to leave the Tower ( London not Luton). But when was this introduced and what were frequencies before my time

RAD 127.3 123.55 (latter rarely used).

TWR 120.2.

Around 1970 we lost 123.55 and gained 128.75 which IIRC was the initial GND frequency. Or was 123.55 used briefly before that for GND.

Then we settled to GND 121.75 TWR 120.2, RAD 127.3, APP/DIR 128.75 APP 129.55 I think- 127.3 was used for SRAs until quite late on.

At some stage the original Radar was replaced by the one on the south side of the runway - Plessey units I think - was the first one a 424- whatever it was it responsible for horrible whine on 127.3.

The TWR became 119.925 (not sure about that)

Then we settled to what we have today, with TWR becoming 132.55 and 127.3 being lost. At some stage 126.725 was introduced as a back up TWR frequency.

I think we still have or did have a delivery frequency - but has this ever been used.

Vintage ATCO will be able to shed some light on this- corrections and dates would be useful
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Old 12th Oct 2016, 00:16
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Originally Posted by 22/04
I think people were a little less sensitive in days of yor - maybe WWII with its losses were fresh in the mind. Remember at Farnboro' in 50s when John Derry was killed Neville Duke immediately took the Hunter up - and the show went on despite crowd casualties. - similarly it went on when the Atlantique crashed in '68. Stiff upper lip.No judgement- just fact.
Sorry about this thread drift, but I think the Farnborough cases you cite were not insensitivity but were deliberately done as a way to keep the crowd there, as otherwise their mass exodus would have blocked all the access roads which needed to be kept clear for the ambulances.
Similarly at Le Mans in 1955 the race continued to its scheduled end.
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Old 12th Oct 2016, 08:29
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When I started in 1967 freqs were App 129.55 Dir 123.55 Rad 127.3 Twr 120.2. I think prior to 129.55 App was 130.35. Not sure.

Radar was a Plessey ACR424 sited where the Engine Run Bay is now but this was replaced late 60s by a Plessey ACR430 which was sited on 'the island'. The Plessey AR15 was purchased early 70s around the time Court Line went bust. If they could have cancelled it I am sure they would. Following a couple of nasty zone infringements we had a temporary Cossor 787, antenna mounted on a truck, displays remoted back to the tower, until the AR15 was ready.

I validated on the 430, 787 and AR15. The 430 was kept going to provide half mile talkdown capability before ILS was installed on rwy 08, the AR15 could only go to 2 miles. The 430 radar head caught fire and melted. I did over 500 half mile talkdowns on the 430.

When we decided to needed a GMC we temporaily used 123.55 ("Luton Director on the Ground" as the then SATCO called it). Then we got 121.75. Can't remember when now the tower freq changed to 132.55 or why we had to lose 120.2. It was also used by Shannon and Lille.

When we got controlled airspace we also had a UHF frequency 378.9 (I think).

Last edited by vintage ATCO; 12th Oct 2016 at 09:42. Reason: idiocy
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Old 12th Oct 2016, 09:00
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VA's SRAs

500 half-mile talk downs on the AR15...?

"Hello, SRG?"
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Old 12th Oct 2016, 09:43
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Whoops!

It was looked at at some time but came to nothing.
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Old 12th Oct 2016, 21:07
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The 430 was kept going to provide half mile talkdown capability before ILS was installed on rwy 08
I have just started to feel old, there was no 08 ILS when I was based at Luton with Monarch!
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Old 12th Oct 2016, 21:49
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Originally Posted by 22/04
RAD 127.3 123.55 (latter rarely used).

TWR 120.2.

Around 1970 we lost 123.55 and gained 128.75 which IIRC was the initial GND frequency. Or was 123.55 used briefly before that for GND.

Then we settled to GND 121.75 TWR 120.2, RAD 127.3, APP/DIR 128.75 APP 129.55 I think- 127.3 was used for SRAs until quite late on.

The TWR became 119.925 (not sure about that)

I think we still have or did have a delivery frequency - but has this ever been used.
Pretty sure 123.55 was the original ground frequency. Not sure about the timing of the switch to 121.75.

Think the TWR was 119.975 for a while after 120.2 and before 132.55.

Yes we have delivery on 121.885, been in use this summer during the morning rush.

Last edited by cj241101; 12th Oct 2016 at 22:07.
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Old 12th Oct 2016, 22:03
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Originally Posted by vintage ATCO
When I started in 1967 freqs were App 129.55 Dir 123.55 Rad 127.3 Twr 120.2. I think prior to 129.55 App was 130.35. Not sure.
.
Thanks vintage ATCO, you've just answered a question I haven't asked yet! My original (Sky Bandit) airband radio came with a list of UK airport frequencies when I bought it at the beginning of 1968. I thought my memory might have been at fault but I have recollections of it giving LTN APP as 130.35 back then. It had already changed to 129.55 by the time I got the radio. Your post has just confirmed this for me.

Last edited by cj241101; 13th Oct 2016 at 11:50.
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