Our visit to Humberside Airport started with a select group of U3A members taking their seats on a rather squeaky mini coach. On arrival we were shepherded into two groups (herding cats comes to mind) of eight with half of us going for a coffee in the airport lounge (I’ve never seen a quieter international airport) and the other half heading for the control tower and the radar room. The coffee interlude enabled everyone the chance to get to know members we may never have met before.
The control tower gave a view across the airfield where not a lot was happening but there were two air traffic controllers talking to light aircraft and a small executive jet preparing to taxi prior to take off. The radar room was fascinating with all large aircraft in the area showing up as small markers on the screen. Our host explained that some of the larger wind turbine blades can appear on the screen intermittently as they spin around. Interestingly regional private airfields have to purchase their radar data from NATS (National Air Traffic Service). Everything these days seems to be run as a commercial concern, even the safety of our skies.
We then visited the airport fire service… They were in the middle of a training session so we had first hand experience of the crews fighting an aircraft fire. The large yellow fire-engine will soon require replacing at a cost of approximately £800,000. The tyres only last 100 miles and each one costs £1,900.
After an extended lunch waiting for the Coastguard to have a shift changeover we travelled out and round the airfield to the Coastguard base. Once through security we were lucky to get an interesting introduction by the on duty co-pilot. If we’d visited in the morning we wouldn’t have seen anything because the crew had been called to an emergency in the North Sea where they were required to airlift a sick traveller from a cruise ship off the coast of Norwich. Surprisingly HM Coastguard is now run by a private company, Bristows, because they could deliver the service cheaper than the armed services.
The staff were very enthusiastic and the co-pilot demonstrated his love of flying and particularly the Sikorsky S92 which is stationed at Humberside Airport.
It was a memorable day out; superbly organised as always by Brian; and for those who missed it – these visits sell out very quickly so get in quick.