NATS presents iconic gift to mark 100 years of the RAF
A piece of aviation history to help mark 100 years of the RAF was unveiled at the NATS air traffic control centre in Swanwick, today (16 October).
A mounted propeller blade, taken from the famous Douglas DC-3 aircraft, was presented to RAF Group Captain Chesh Cowieson, and will go on permanent display at the centre.
He said: “In our 100th Anniversary Year it is a great honour to accept this gift on behalf of the team at RAF Swanwick. The long partnership between NATS and the MOD has been built on close collaboration and we look forward to maintaining this relationship, as we both successfully deliver safe and secure airspace.”
The DC-3 and its many variants served with great distinction both as a RAF military transport aircraft – including on D-Day – and as a civilian airliner. First flown in 1935, it is widely seen as one of the most significant and influential aircraft in aviation history, and is remarkably still in active use in parts of the world today.
Juliet Kennedy, NATS Operations Director, said: “NATS is very proud of our close relationship with the RAF which goes back many decades. Here at Swanwick we have military and civilian air traffic controllers working side-by-side and many of our NATS people are ex-servicemen and women themselves.
“A propeller blade from such an iconic aircraft, which served both in military and civilian aviation, therefore seemed like the perfect gift to mark such a special occasion.”
The UK is one of the few countries in the world where civilian and military air traffic control services are integrated. This allows access for civil aviation to military airspace when it is not in use and also enables close co-operation and coordination if there is an airborne security event.
Wing Commander Gez Currie, commanding officer of RAF(U) Swanwick, said: “We enjoy working very closely with NATS on a daily basis and this leads to the successful delivery of Air Traffic Control Services across the UK. This relationship is very important to the safety and security of the skies above Britain. Being presented with the gift today, in what has been a fantastic year of commemorations and celebration of the 100th year of the Royal Air Force, is a fitting acknowledgement of our well founded relationship.”