The world's first air traffic tower was built 100 years ago by the UK government at Croydon Aerodrome, south London.
And fascinating archive photos of it – and the planes that control it – highlight just how much the aviation industry has changed.
The structure, a wooden hut, was built on behalf of the & # 39; UK Ministry of Air, which & # 39; stated that it & # 39; 15 feet above ground level & # 39; should be upright and with & # 39; place large windows on all four walls & # 39 ;.
The world's first air management account at Croydon Aerodrome, filmed in 1920
This is Croydon Aerodrome pictured in 1925. At the time, it was London's main airport
An undated photo of Croydon Aerodrome, now with a few more buildings
This building would house the & # 39; Aerodrome Control Tower & # 39; and at a stroke, the ministry emphasized both the term that has remained synonymous with air traffic control for the last 100 years and a design that remains immediately recognizable.
At the time, Croydon Aerodrome, formed of several huts and a grass court, was London's main airport and this tower began the development of air traffic control.
A century later, Nats, as the UK's main air traffic control service, manages 2.6 million million flights per year with hundreds of millions of passengers.
A new runway nights manual will be installed at Croydon Aerodrome on February 11, 1930
The concept of air traffic control emerged in addition to the rise of & # 39; the first passenger service of & # 39; The World and UK Ministry of Air commissioned the Croydon Tower on February 25, 1920 to safely help organize growing levels of traffic.
In the 1920s, Croydon Aerodrome was the busiest airport of & # 39; the world, with about a dozen flights a day to Paris and Brussels.
Ian Walker, president of Historic Croydon Airport Trust, said: "In 1920 there was no blueprint for what air traffic control or even an airport should look like, so it fell to those early pioneers to develop the ideas, to test and implement that would not enable air travel to grow safely.
The concept of air traffic control emerged in addition to the rise of & # 39; the first passenger services of & # 39; the world of airline and the UK Ministry of Air has commissioned the Croydon Tower to help safely organize growing levels of traffic
The UK Air Ministry noted that the control tower & # 39; 15 meters above ground level & # 39; should be erected and with & # 39; large windows to place on all four walls & # 39 ;. This photo was taken in 1927
The progress of tens of thousands of daily flights was followed with basic radio-based navigation and placed on paper maps and with the help of pins and flags
& # 39; Airports for that had radio offices and & # 39; air lighters & # 39 ;, but nothing with the explicit intention of providing air traffic technical services to aircraft. The & # 39; control tower & # 39; was described as a & # 39; essential & # 39; development and its inheritance lives with us today. & # 39;
The first controllers – known as Civil Aviation Traffic Officers or CATO & # 39; s – provided basic traffic, location and weather information to pilots over the radio, which was not yet a relatively new invention. The progress of tens of thousands of daily flights was followed with basic radio-based navigation and placed on paper maps and with the help of pins and flags.
Today, Nats' 1,700 air traffic controllers handle up to 8,000 flights a day in some of & # 39; busiest airspace areas of & # 39; e world.
This Airco DH-4 served in 1920 from the Croydon Airport to Paris
The letter from the Ministry of Air confirms the building of the Croydon control tower. & # 39; Light-proof blinds & # 39; and in & # 39; wind habit & # 39; were one of the many requirements for cutting
The first controllers – known as Civil Aviation Traffic Officers or CATO & # 39; s – provided basic traffic, location and weather information to pilots over the radio. This image was created at Croydon Aerodrome in 1931
Juliet Kennedy, director of operations at Nats, said: & # 39; We have come a long way since the first controllers in terms of the amount of traffic we handle and the tools we use, but the motivation to using the latest technology to help make flights safer and more efficient at the absolute heart of what we do. & # 39;
In 2019, Nats introduced real-time satellite tracking to improve the safety and environmental performance of flights across the North Atlantic, while at Heathrow researching the use of Artificial Intelligence to cut weather related delays at airports.
Juliet continues: & # 39; We have a £ 1 billion investment program, but technology alone is not the answer if we both continue to keep up with the growing demand to fly and to & # 39; to meet the enormous challenge of climate change. Modernizing our airspace is essential now. & # 39;
Red Rose, the Avro Avian that belonged to American aviation captain William Newton Lancaster, aka Bill Lancaster (1898 – 1933), at Croydon Aerodrome, October 1927
American aviator Charles Lindbergh arrives on Croydon Aerodrome after a flight from Evere Aerodrome in Brussels in his Ryan monoplan, the Spirit of St. Louis, May 29, 1927
A crowd of about 100,000 revealed that Lindbergh arrived, eight days after his completion of & # 39; s first solo transatlantic flight
The Imperial Airways Handley Page 42W, named Hengist, is towed on the Croydon Aerodrome runway on December 8, 1934 for its first departure to Brisbane, Australia.
Commander Glen Kidston (1899 – 1931) tested his new aircraft at Croydon Aerodrome in 1931. He made a long-distance visit to Cape Town there
Conquering Fun Fun: Cars at the Riley Motor Club Rally, Croydon Aerodrome, April 25, 1931
The & # 39; UK network of airways and flight paths were first designed in & # 39; e 1960s and make it impossible to fully utilize the benefits of modern aircraft, Nats says.
It adds that it & # 39; plays a leading role in industry plans to & # 39; e air space of & # 39; land in & # 39; to modernize over the next five years, something that will allow them to fly higher for longer, gain more direct routes and allow for more continuous approaches to income, something that both reduces fuel consumption and emissions & # 39 ;.
Juliet concludes: & # 39; The early pioneers of & # 39; In the 1920s, the foundations that allowed allowed aviation to flourish in the 20th century and the lives of countless people to "# 39; to enrich the world. Now, with more than three million flights per year predicted by 2030, we must do the same for the remainder of & # 39; the 21st. & # 39;
Father Christmas arrives at Croydon Aerodrome on November 4, 1930 on a plane loaded with a load of children's toys during the holiday season
An Air Union Wibault 282 aircraft, the & # 39; Golden Clipper & # 39; on the asphalt at Croydon Airport in 1930
Ian Walker, chairman of Historic Croydon Airport Trust, said: "In 1920 there was no blueprint for what air traffic control or even an airport would look like, so it fell to those early pioneers to develop the ideas, to test and implement that would not enable air travel to grow safely. & # 39; Here is the airport on June 22, 1946
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