above is Bill Breckenridge’s story via Heather Bain

the 1985 brochure on Glasgow ATC is here ATC at Glasgow Airport 1985

Alastair C Campbell has provided me with some scans from a book that he thinks was printed to celebrate the Queen’s official opening of Glasgow Airport on 27th June 1966 (it was raining, so no surprise there! – Alastairs words, we couldn’t possibly comment).   I’ve produced it as a slide show

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Slide 1 is the front of the book which cost half a crown (2s 6d).

Slide 2 is the start of the chapter about ATC and shows one of the old Marconi 264 A/H radars.

Slide 3 starts the text about ATC. Don’t know who the controller and Assistant are. When I arrived the controller would have been in the GMC position. It might be Ron Brown but I don’t know that.

Slide 4 is another view of the VCR with different staff and I have no idea who they are.

Slide 5 continues the text with a picture of the Apron Tower staff. They would have been employed by Glasgow Corporation who owned the airport at the time.

Slide 6 is the approach room. The chap with the beard is on the Approach position, a procedural position, as it still was when I arrived in 1979. The chap alongside him is the Radar 1 controller, what would now be Intermediate Controller. Behind them you can see the Assistant. I feel I should know the chap with the beard and wonder if it is Jan Card, but that is a guess. The radar controller  might be John Nordbo.

Slide 7 took me back to my youth, although about 10 years after this was taken. The viewing balcony was on what was the International Pier but is now the Low Cost one that handles Easyjet, Ryanair, Loganair and the like. It shows a British Eagle Viscount and 2 Vanguards, probably BEA’s.I spent many happy hours up there.

Slides 8 and 9 show the airport facilities when it opened.

atchistory tried reproducing it as a pdf file but the quality wasn’t good enough

Glasgow Airport 1961


The aerial of Glasgow Airport is from 1961 when it was RNAS Abbotsinch (HMS Sanderling).  The picture shows aircraft parked on the disused runway awaiting breaking up or disposal.  The airfield name can just be made out to the south of the runway alongside the loop where the PAR used to be sited.  It still exists in the grass today and the airport company go through phases of rediscovering it and painting it.  At the bottom of the picture you can see the slipway from the White Cart that was used to take aircraft that had been delivered by boat up onto the airfield.  If you look on the satellite view on Google Maps you can still see a little bit of it.  The large hangar that it connects to is now the Long Stay Car Park. – Alastair C Campbell

abbotsinch 1966 JB

PF0a1 from John Bennett’s box brownie in 1966

Glasgow Airport CTB_1

PF0b photo by and copyright of David Jaffray

“Glasgow Airport CTB is how it looked when I arrived in 1979 for ATCA Famil and when I was posted back here in 1980. I don’t know the date of it, however.  The full size window on the right, below the VCR, was the old Approach Radar Room. The small window to the left of it was where the headset lockers were.” – Alastair C Campbell

Alastair has provided numerous new photographs for the EGPF Collection. Combining them with the photos already on line they give a good historical overview of a typical ATC units’ transition between the mid 1970s and 2016. In particular the photographs of the approach radar room show (if our interpretation of the photos is correct) four generations of approach radar systems.

EGPF 8_16

PF0c Caravelle PH-TRS is from Barry Davidson

glasgow tower HB

PF0c via Heather Bain

Glasgow ATC (8)PF1

Glasgow ATC (9)PF2


PF2a above and below, two photos of the of the current Control Tower building. PF2b below taken in late 2015 – Alastair C Campbell




PF2c from Barry Davidson

Glasgow ATC (4)PF3

above and below Bev Taylor on Air and Gus Robinson on GMC – Alastair C Campbell

Glasgow ATC (3)PF4

Glasgow ATC (5)PF5

 L-R Andy Comber being trained by Billy Craig on Air, and Angus Kennedy on GMC. Unidentified ATSA beyond that – Alastair C Campbell

Glasgow ATC (6)PF6

shows the same two on Air to the right of the picture but don’t know who is doing GMC – Alastair C Campbell

Glasgow ATC (7)PF7

Steve Morell who looks as if he’s doing Air. – Alastair C Campbell

Glasgow ATC (12)PF8

the old radar room sometime in the 1980s.

R-L Dave Barrett on Radar 2, Alex Fleming on Radar 1 and judging by the shirt, Martyn Pawson on Approach.  Can’t see who the assistant is on the far left. – Alastair C Campbell

Glasgow Approach Radar nov 82 1

PF8a First of three photos of Glasgow Approach Radar taken in November  82 by Alastair C Campbell

Glasgow Approach Radar nov 82 2


Glasgow Approach Radar nov 82 3


“These are all of the Glasgow Approach Room taken on one of my nightshifts in November 1982.  You can just about make out the date on the handover board attached to the position. Number 1 is of the Radar 1 and Radar 2 positions, Radar 1 on the left.  These would now be termed INT and FIN, I think. Picture 2 is of the Approach position.  As you can see, purely a procedural position that doesn’t exist today.  This position and Radar 1 shared a frequency.  App did all the strip marking until an arrival was transferred to Radar 2 and did all the chat to VFR traffic whether in, out or overflying.  There was no use of strips by the radar controllers, they employed the old written T with callsign at the top, headings down one side and altitudes down the other.  Picture 3 is of the 3 controller positions.  When this was a Navy tower prior to 1966, this was the level of Flying Control, hence all the windows.  When HMS Sanderling became Glasgow Airport in 1966, a VCR Cab was put on the top of the building and this was converted to the Approach Room.  Out of sight to the left is the Approach Assistant’s position.”  – Alastair C Campbell


PF8d a photo of Alastair  Campbell  taking over the Radar 1 position from Dave Kirk (who is now (2016) a Captain with BA?). This would be in the late 80s, probably 89.


PF8e It’s a picture of the Radar 2 Director position taken on the same nightshift in November 1982 as the pictures already on the site.

Glasgow ATC (1)PF9

is the current ACR although with NODE G.  L-R Ron Kirkwood recording an ATIS on the ATSA desk, with the letter above showing that Yankee was current. Bill Gray who was the Watch Supervisor, Roger Cooper on Radar 1 and Gus Robinson on Radar 2. – Alastair C Campbell

Glasgow ATC (11)PF10

Roger Cooper again – Alastair C Campbell


PF10a the first of three pictures of the Glasgow ACR from 2005

the next incarnation of NODE G. It’s a bit blurred because the photographer took a long time exposure to make sure he got a good shot of the equipment and not so much of the people.  Anyway, the ghosts L-R are ATSA Maureen Cuthbertson, Senga Sinclair training Chas Berry on Radar 1.  This is an indication that the Approach position is no longer being used, although the radar screen and desk is still there.  10b and 10c are both of the Radar 2 desk.- Alastair C Campbell






PF10d    the INT and FIN positions (L-R). The picture was taken on a night shift in July 2014 – Alastair C Campbell who also provided the next four photos about which he says

“Came across these pictures showing some of the Staff Members ‘at play.’ They were taken by Martyn Pawson who has recently retired.  I think these would be the early nineties since we’re in the current radar room which commenced use during 1988 or 89, I think.  We started using NODE G in 1994 so it’s before that.  It shows the large number of staff we used to have on a watch!  Bear in mind that there would be at least another 2 controllers and an assistant in the VCR, plus, if this was a morning shift,  the trainee would be out on the roll run!”

EGPF Rad 1

PF10e   shows Dave Kirk, Me and Gill McNab doing the work on Radar 2, Radar 1 and Approach respectively. In the background L-R are ATCA John Coyle, John Steven (I think) and the late Hugh Brown.

EGPF Rad 2

PF10f  shows Dave Price on Radar 1 and Dave Kirk on Approach

EGPF Rad 3

PF10g  was specially posed for the photographer and shows Gill on the left, me in the middle, Dave Kirk on the right!  That would be our original Watchman RDP, I think.  We had used the Marconi 264AH before that so the smallness of the blips came as a shock!  As said, our next RDP was NODE G in 1994, still being fed by the Watchman and that was probably when we ceased being a Primary only unit and got SSR for the first time ever.

EGPF Rad 4

PF10h  shows Ron Paris on Approach, John Steven on Radar 1 and in the gloom at the far end, Jim Thomson doing Radar 2.  We were still using the same system as we’d used in the ‘old approach room’ whereby approach did the strip marking and the Radar controllers used the written Ts.  Radar controllers didn’t start using the flight progress strips until some time after NODE G was introduced.  That led many years later to the Approach position being done away with.

Glasgow ATC (10)PF11

DTO Bob Mylchreest in the Equipment Room. – Alastair C Campbell

Glasgow ATC (1)PF12

PF12 and 13 show Mike Kent at the Equipment Room desk – Dave Lacey

Glasgow ATC (2)PF13

EGPF 264 (1)PF14

show the construction or deconstruction (depending on whether they’re in the correct order) of the Marconi 264AH.  When I arrived in 1979, there were two of these beasts on the far side of the airfield.  Out at 50nm the blips were inches wide. They were eventually replaced by a Watchman which I think was coincidental with the current ACR coming into service. – Alastair C Campbell

EGPF 264 (2)PF15

EGPF 264 (3)PF16

EGPF 264 (4)PF17

we’ve just received another batch of photos from Alastair C Campbell

” Amongst them were these of my old  unit at Glasgow.  I’m not very sure when they were taken but at a  guess I’d say the early 1980s. It’s certainly before 1987 because I  think there’s a British Caledonian 1-11 sitting on the apron!”

EPSON scanner image

PF18  – “is the CTB as it was when I arrived. The brown part at ground  level on the right is the Telecommunications area.  The part  immediately to the left of that was built on and became our current  Approach Radar room. In this photo it’s on the floor below the VCR.”

EPSON scanner image

PF19  “is of one of our two old Marconi 264AH radars. They were  replaced by a Watchman but I can’t remember when; probably early 90s.”

EPSON scanner imagePF20EPSON scanner imagePF21EPSON scanner image PF22
PF20-22 “are all of the Glasgow VCR. Again I’ve no idea when.  The DFTI is the second version I worked with. It has no labels but  shows something like a 15nm radius of the airfield, so unlike the  first version, didn’t need a metal cursor turned to the runway in use!  These have been taken on a nightshift and since it’s light at 0501Z,  likely sometime during the summer.  The ATCA was at the far end of the  desk next to GMC. AIR is closest and has the headset on it. Ah, paper  strips! It was never quite the same when we went electronic.”


7 thoughts on “EGPF GLASGOW (Abbotsinch) ATC”

  1. Alastair, thank you for an extremely interesting article. Are you still there, at EGPF? Surely you’re retired by now…….? I’m still living in Spain since retiring 14 years ago, but we’re toying with the idea of returning to UK, just not seeing enough of the great-grandchildren growing up. Will maybe try to get in touch if/when we return. Once again, thank you for the article.


  2. Thanks for the very interesting history, remember when the a/p opened in 1966, was a boy in the Whitecrook area of Clydebank at that time.
    Had a couple of visits to ATC in seventies & early 2000s when My son was on work experience (on ATC engineering) .Still listen to Gla
    now just under two miles out on 23 (Old Drumchapel), still spotting. Interesting to see the changes on radar control rooms I remember the Old Marconi Radar heads.
    Thanks again


  3. Did my ATCO Cadet aerodrome training at Glasgow in 1972. Myself and Nigel Wilshaw were the first people to actually take a validation board on GMC (which opened in mid 1972) as those with an ADC validaton were ‘deemed’ to be valid already.
    In the slide show, in the picture of the controller using the signal lamp, that could be Hugh Brown but regretfully I don’t recognise any of the others. John Cloe was training officer in ’72 and I remember a husband and wife team George and Margaret Ballantyne; I think George became ‘boss’ of Prestwick Centre eventually.


    1. Hi Terry,
      Interesting information about the arrival of GMC. I think you’re right about Hugh Brown. George was my supervisor on E Watch when I was posted back in 1980 although I think Margaret had left just before that to bring up their kids. Sadly, John Clow died only last month. He was in his 80s.


      1. Photo PF8c. I was doing famil. on the APP position (there being others to train in ADC) with Hugh Brown when he had a personal phone call.
        He then turned to the supervisor, John Sellars, and siad ‘John, my mother’s died, could you..’ and John immediately removed him from duty and instructed me to stay there and assist the radar controller by reading out the weather to arrivals. I can’t remember the radar controller’s name (Nigel…?)but I remember he himself had only just validated on radar(mid 1972).
        Photo PF10h. I knew Ron Paris well as we were on the same Cadet course (No 23) and spent 1973 together at Lindholme (living in the Officers Mess with its cheap bar prices!) for our Area Radar training.
        Ron arrived late for his Initial Course at Bournemouth in late 1971 owing to the person intended to arrive, an ATCA with me at West Drayton, initially failing his medical. Ron was next on the list for ‘promotion’ but had been away on holiday when NATS tried to contact him with the news and didn’t find out until the he returned to Glasgow (where he had been an ATCA) only to find out he shouldn’t be there!


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