How a forgotten Revision can turn into a Nightmare


It was sometimes during my first training sessions at Bremen ACC, the enroute area control center responsible for the lower airspace in northern Germany. I had passed one year of theoretical education at the Air Traffic Control School in Munich, at that time located at the old Munich airport of Riem. There all of us newcomers learned the basics of ATC: Rules and Regulations, Navigation, Meteorology, Separation-Basics, Aeronautics and quite a bit of other stuff.

After all that theory we were sent to different control-units, in my case it was Bremen ACC. Here I was put into one of the shift-teams, and assigned to two individuals, my “coaches”. They were to supervise me while doing the first steps on the position, always cutting in when things went wrong.

In Bremen you had to go through training on the coordinator positions first. Training would be complete if you passed a check-out without any flaws, and then you would obtain your licenses for the respective positions and you would be entitled to work on your own without any further supervision by your coaches. Radar training was to follow the coordinator training, but that was some time down the road.

For now I had to understand what coordination meant: Negotiating every detail and data on any flight within your control sector with the next guy, respective the next sector or control unit the flight was to enter, or receiving information from the previous guy upon any changes concerning the flights you were expecting from him. These changes in altitude, variations of expected time over a fix or deviations from the coordinated flight-path were called “revisions”, and I soon learned how important a revision could be.

I was training on one of the “east-sectors” of Bremen ACC. It comprised a bunch of airspace north of Hannover, up to and including the area of Hamburg. This sector was bordered by other sectors of Bremen-ACC to the south, west and north. Underneath were the approach areas of Hannover and Hamburg airports, above the upper airspace controlled by Maastricht UAC. To the east lay the border with eastern Germany, a border no one was supposed to cross.
The only exception to this were the 3 corridors, of which we controlled the entry point to the northern corridor. This entry point was BKD (Brünkendorf) VOR/DME.

The coordination partner for the northern corridor through eastern Germany was Air Safety Center in West-Berlin, a joint control center run by the allied forces. With them we had to follow all the same procedures as with everyone else. In the corridors flights were only accepted up to 10 000 feet altitude. In the northern corridor it was common practice to fly odd levels plus 500 feet eastbound, even levels plus 500 feet westbound. So a flight from Berlin would enter our area at FL 85 (8500 feet) or at FL 65, lower levels were normally not flown in the corridor.

We were expecting a Pan Am 727 from Berlin on its way to Hamburg, estimated some time over BKD at FL 85. As with all other partners, if there were any deviation in time and/or altitude from that estimate, Berlin Air Safety Center would give us a revision.

At the same time, Lüneburg airport (some miles northwest from BKD) was conducting parachute jump training, that is students jumping out of small planes with their chutes opening automatically once they left the plane. Those planes needed a clearance from Bremen ACC to drop their students, and they obtained the clearance from the responsible sector, our sector. And the individual issuing this clearance was, by telephone – me!

We (as others also) called this para-dropping circus “Deppenwerfen”, that means “idiot warping”! When the call from Lüneburg reached my position, I wasn’t sure what to do. My coach patiently told me “… now look around, do you have any other traffic which could conflict with the dropping? No! And what altitude they want to drop their students from? Fl 70. And in what altitude are we expecting the clipper 727? FL 85. So???? – Go ahead and tell them idiots “Cleared to warp!” So I did.

We could see the para-dropping plane on our radar, and we also saw the approaching Clipper, but only his symbol, since at that time we didn’t have universal transponder settings. After the clipper would call in on our frequency, we would assign him one of our own transponder codes and thereafter have him positively identified with call-sign and his altitude on the screen. The Lüneburg plane showed a steady FL 70 on the scope.

Soon the frequency crackled alive with a harsh voice “Bremen, this is Clipper 123 at FL 65 – – What the hell is all that crap in front of my windshield?!” Our hearts stopped!

What happened? Apparently the Clipper came in a different altitude than the one we expected him to come. And the poor students, after they had been warped out of their plane and their chutes automatically opened, they all over sudden were encountered by this enormous Boeing 727 rushing through their cloud of parachutes. The poor guys were literally trying to climb up the yarns by which they were hanging from their chutes to get out of the way!

Soon there was yelling all around us. My coach yelled, the neighbor positions yelled, the watch-supervisor yelled, the Clipper captain yelled, and the phone was ringing angrily, and after answering it someone else yelled. But – after a few minutes it turned out nobody was harmed, except excessive adrenalin within the 727 crew, the poor students, my coach and me. Phew!

After everything calmed down, came the investigation. It turned out that Air Safety Center in Berlin had simply – forgotten to pass the level revision! Clipper 123 had turbulence at FL 85 and still within Berlin’s airspace had wanted to descend to FL 65, which he had been allowed. Finally my coach told me: “See, how important a proper revision is!” So I learned …

Idiots warping
Idiots warping

Good Weather

(translated by Juergen Matthes)

Duesseldorf Tower

Good weather
Good weather

Everyone thinks, flying in bad weather is more difficult or more dangerous than flying in good weather. But you cannot generalize this, flying in good weather can be damn dangerous too!

Tower Düsseldorf, good weather, sunshine, very light winds, no cloud in the sky. A perfect day. In such a weather, visibility unlimited, the planes come in visual and only monitor the instrument approach aids, like the ILS, occasionally. The magic words are: “we have the field in sight.” They get their landing clearance and everything is alright.

Not so with a Clipper (Pan Am) this very day.

Approach reports the Boeing 707 at 10 miles final. This means, the Clipper will be sent to our tower frequency. He calls in right a way and reports “… field in sight”. He gets his landing clearance. Only problem: After 2 minutes, no Clipper is visible anywhere!

He should have been at the outer marker by now, but – nothing. We called the Clipper and asked to confirm his position. His brief answer: “…landing!”

But that couldn’t be. Nothing on the runway. Ulli remarked: “Essen, he must have landed in Essen, oh shit!”

Ulli was right, as we found out by a quick call to Essen Tower. They got the big jet just barely stopped at the end of their runway! And what a surprise, the runway supported him, he didn’t sink in! One has to know, the runway at Essen is limited to a weight of 5.7 tons, but a 707 weighs about 100 tons, amazing!

How could an experienced pilot mistake Düsseldorf with Essen, that had never happened before. Essen lies about 3 miles north of the runway centerline of Düsseldorf, but the runway direction is almost identical to ours. The Clipper pilot was vectored by approach about 15 miles out onto final approach track performing a left turn. Doing this the pilot sees the Essen runway, although a few miles north, first. He doesn’t check his instruments and thinks, this has got to be my runway, reports the field in sight and adjusts his approach further north and a bit shorter. And he reports field in sight on our tower frequency.

We, on our tower, had no chance to notice this error, because Essen is about 6 miles northeast and the Clipper was already quite low, so no visual contact could be achieved. What is this normally called: A chain of unthinkable mishaps!

The colleagues at Essen left the 707 sitting at the end of the runway. They weren’t sure whether the taxiways would withstand the weight. The passengers could get off the plane after one hour. That was how long it took to haul some stairways from Düsseldorf to Essen!

One thing was clear, the chance to get such a heavy bird out of Essen again in one piece was very low. The landing had been already a miracle, but takeoff on such a short runway, impossible. That meant, Essen airport was going to be closed, for a long time.

We had to report this incident and to enter it into the daily log. The report went to Brunswick, Luftfahrtbundesamt, the responsible unit which investigates such incidents. We were also faced with interviews, we were involved. If things went wrong, they could convict us of malpractice. There such a dummy lands at Essen and we will prosecuted for this, the outlook was not very inspiring! Our fears became true after two hours, when the watch-supervisor of the radar control-room was at the door together with 2 policemen and watched us until we were relieved. Then all evidence, the control-strips of the Clipper and other things, were confiscated and we were questioned in the reclining room, highly official.

Some days later, the investigators from Brunswick were there, the whole case was reconstructed. An HS 748, a two-engine prop the German ATC used to calibrate navigational aids, acted like the Clipper. Approach now guided this plane exactly like they had guided that Clipper, according to the radar data. The investigators payed close attention, if we could have avoided this incident.

We thought this was quite unfair. They had all the time in the world and they knew what they had to pay attention for. So far never a plane had landed in Essen, that something like that is possible, we agreed, we could not have had a chance to expect. Therefore we also couldn’t have avoided it! The time which passed between landing clearance and the upcoming question “where is he” seemed long enough to complete the landing at Essen. You just don’t imagine that this could happen.

After the manoever had been executed 3 times and the plane was not visible at all, not even for the investigators, the guys decided to replay the recordings from the tower timed exactly to the progress of the plane during another run. Aha, they really were up to try to find something with us! We were supposed to have acted too late.

But this also didn’t work, it seemed we were safe. We did everything right, thank goodness! Pilots error.

Meanwhile the technicians agonized “how do we get that bird back out of Essen?” And this in such a way that you can use that plane again afterwards. This is a question of money, such a bird is not inexpensive! Question: What is a good landing? A landing you walk away from. What is a perfect landing: A landing you can use the plane afterwards!

After two weeks the decision was made. First they wanted to unmount the wings, then load the plane on a flatbed and haul it to Düsseldorf, then remount the whole thing again. But then they dropped that idea, 1 – too expensive, 2 – the plane would have to undergo a massive re-licensing marathon to get its airworthiness certificate back!

So they decided to strip the plane. Everything which was not essential for a short flight was removed and hauled to Düsseldorf, except the pilots seats (and instruments and engines, of course). Then the plane should hop (fly) to Düsseldorf where everything was to be put in again.

The technicians had calculated a max takeoff weight for the runway length in Essen. The task was to reach that weight! But no one was sure whether the whole thing would finally work, after all! Very comforting! We were able to follow the progress on this thing because all the removed parts were hauled to hangar #8.

Then the day came, takeoff should take place.

Our team on the tower had to close the airport at 14:00 for two hours. Two test-pilots of Boeing should takeoff at 14:15 and try the hop to Düsseldorf. Everything worked out, the calculations were correct, the Clipper appeared on the horizon and landed safely at Düsseldorf.

It took another 2 weeks until the plane was reassembled and disappeared without passengers, headed for New York.
Not always bad weather is a problem, there can be problems also during good weather periods!

Sunday Driving Ban

(translated by Juergen Matthes)


US Airways
US Airways

In the early 70’s we had the oil crisis. To save fuel, in Germany a Sunday driving ban had been imposed. It should take place on 4 consecutive Sundays. Unfortunately the politicians forgot to also impose a Sunday flying ban. It just had to lead to problems!

And the problems were, that our belle etage wasn’t informed, so they didn’t issue any exceptional permits for us to drive to work. Somehow logical, because the belle etage was off on Sundays, what for those permits, then? Apparently they completely forgot about us!

On the first Sunday, when the ban was active, things still halfway worked out. Most people didn’t believe in this yet and renounced using the streets and roads for other things. But the police, they had special permits and didn’t feel like to let anyone else slip by.

At that time I was living in Gerresheim, to get to Lohhausen to the airport was quite a ways, right through the middle of the city. So all kinds of opportunities for the police to ask for my special permit! Which I didn’t have!

First check was halfway decent. Asked about the permit. Ok, none, getting chewed up, protest, must get to work, what work, show [glossary]ATC[/glossary] id-card, that’s why, we’ll check, telephone call to watch-supervisor, doesn’t work direct, get on police radio, tell com center telephone number, have them check, wait …

Then – com center says, yes, he must show up at work. Great! Policeman says, ok, must work, but do you have to go by car? I says: well, but ambulances don’t take the train either. Too bad, wrong answer! You now park car, go by train! Tell policeman, call watch-supervisor again, let him know, will be late, because policeman. Answer via com center – let him drive, supervisior angry, very angry!

After the officers told me to have a good trip, I could drive on. I had the feeling that they didn’t mean it.

And it wasn’t meant to be. 2 kilometers further on, police, stoplight, getting chewed up, the whole procedure was repeated. It didn’t last as long, because com center insisted on getting things straightened out quickly. I was on my way again. But not long: police, stoplight, getting chewed up, … …

Historically speaking, one of those days when enough policeman and policecars were on the road. There was but one more check on my way to work, but I could have gone by train after all, I would have been just as late getting to work!

Only problem: The colleagues from early shift must wait for the relief to arrive, they stay put until everyone is there. Another problem, the colleagues from early shift also drove to work with their cars, but were on the road much earlier, well before the police started checking …

Our watch-supervisor was out of ideas, he felt, on the way to work, he has authority enough to enforce that everybody is exempt, but on the way home? Historically again, the first time a complete team went home by bus and train, including a bunch of delays accompanied by a lot of cussing and swearing, and, the next morning, return to work the same way!

Till the next car-free Sunday was one week. By heroic efforts our belle etage managed to have the special permits ready by Friday and deposit them in the control-room. The only problem: There were those, who had Friday off but were supposed to show up at work on Sunday again! They again didn’t have a permit. I was off that second Sunday, but heard about heart-breaking stories on the streets of Düsseldorf, about cursing colleagues and desperate policemen.

Then, finally – Heureka, I got my special permit for the third Sunday, when I had late-shift again. I thought – that’s it, now I’m in business! Policeman stops, me show permit, me drive on! Great. That was the plan. Unfortunately reality catches up with you, so this was the case too.

Since I had my permit, but yet figured I’d be stopped a couple of times, I only went half an hour earlier than usual. First mistake!

The problem wasn’t the police, the whole way not a single police-car. What a disappointment, I had wanted to show my permit so badly. They ought to have stopped me! The problem were the people on the roads. They had become used to the car-free Sundays and were milling about all the streets, roads and even freeways. There was no way to get through, complaints by everyone, asshole, idiot and much more. On the road: barbecues, hockey, flea-markets, reclining chairs, what have you. Simply everything you can imagine which doesn’t belong on the road!

Additionally it was dangerous, the people had anything on their minds except a car on the road! Kids, pets and totally confused people: a car, today, here, that ain’t possible, this guy must be mad!

And – no police, the guys could have at least forwarded a delay message to my watch-supervisor!

It was a historical day: No cars on the road. Therefore the fear the whole way to be dragged out of the car and lynched! The whole thing was topped by getting chewed up by my watch-supervisor for being late!!

Hard to believe, but there were people who were happy about the end of the Sunday driving bans because of very different reasons as having fuel available again.

I was one of them …

Search and Rescue

aviation severance
aviation severance

(translated by Juergen Matthes)

Tower at Düsseldorf airport, my favourite working position. It was something special. Many people think, the whole business of ATC takes place at the tower, but it is not so. Tower is only responsible for the runways, for flights departing and approaching them, and for the taxiways leading from and to the apron.

The tower is normally manned by a tower controller, responsible for runway traffic, a ground controller for all ground movements on the taxiways, and an assistant, responsible for coordination and clearance delivery. These 3 were the rulers over the entire airport! Nothing happened without their approval, and even more important, nobody could interfere in their business, their word was law!

It so happened that Ulli and I went to night-shift. Night-shifts were handled by only 2 people, because night-shifts at the tower were but exciting business, it rather was, after the 2 mail-flights from Berlin, more than boring. The airport was sleeping, until early morning.

Dark, lights out and quiet.

During night-shift one agreed in advance, who could leave and rest, there was a recreation-room on a lower floor. To kill time until morning we had developed different hobbies, like great circle course calculations or building model airplanes. Ulli was fiddling about with his brand new calculator, one of the early ones which were programmable while I was working on my JU 52, the “Aunt JU” as this airplane used to be called. After 2 hours of quietness Ulli disappeared downstairs.

I kept on working on my model when suddenly there was a squeal on the emergency frequency 121.5. I knew that squeal: An ELT was sending a bailout signal. Every aircraft has such a thing aboard, and in case of an accident that signal is generated.

So I didn’t expect anything good.

Soon enough the phone rang, and the Search and Rescue Center from Cologne wanted to know whether we could hear that signal, which I affirmed.

Apparently Ulli had turned the ringer off of his phone in the recreation-room, he simply didn’t answer! Cologne wanted to have my bearing on that signal.

To circle in the source of the signal I woke up the personnel at Essen airport and asked them for a bearing on that signal too. This I passed on to SAR Cologne, and soon afterwards they told me the approximate position of the source, as they had calculated.

It was our General Aviation Terminal! 2 minutes later Cologne called again and confirmed the launch of their SAR-helicopter!

The whole Düsseldorf airport seemed asleep, the only guy I could reach was at hangar #8, a janitor! Hangar #8 belonged to LTU Airlines and was located at the other end of the airport. The only vehicle which was available to this poor janitor was his bicycle, I asked him to ride to the GAT and check. To help him find his way, I switched on all taxiway lights. Radio communication was not possible, he had no radio!

Cologne called again and informed, the helicopter would arrive in 10 minutes!

From this time on I was only a spectator, because of lacking communication with the janitor. But what was there to see!

To help the helicopter also find his way, I now had turned on all lights of the airport and set them to 100% intensity. Quite a light show in the middle of the night!

The janitor had reached the GAT in the meantime and had disappeared together with his bike. The helicopter was in sight, about 2 miles south of the field. And there was the janitor again on his bike, on the carrier of the bike was a red box. The box which was responsible for the noise on 121.5! The helicopter was just starting to hover above the GAT, then it swang around and followed the bike, since his direction finder showed him the bearing to the source of the signal. It literally plunged onto the poor biker! That one, scared to death, pedalled as hard as he could.

Unfortunately I didn’t have radio-contact with the helicopter either, so I couldn’t help. But the janitor was a smart guy, he’d figured out that the helicopter was after him. Therefore he chose his way around and through obstacles, houses and objects, so the helicopter could only see him at times. An enthralling race started, between bicycle and helicopter. It seemed the biker would win!

Finally the janitor arrived at his hangar #8 and disappeared. The helicopter hovered 5 meters above ground in front of the hangar. Nothing else happened. Suddenly it was quiet on 121.5.

SAR Cologne called and stated: “Helicopter returning to base!” A call to the janitor finally made things clear. In the GAT mechanics hat put this ELT into a private business jet yesterday. Somehow one of the mechanics must have forgotten to bolt down this thing, so gravity won and the transmitter plunged down onto the ground. According to his design it started blaring out its emergency.

The janitor had found the thing and put it on his carrier. He was quite familiar with these things and knew: It will whine as long as there is juice in the battery. So he took his ax and demolished the box, until it shut up!

I spent most of the rest of my night-shift making entries in the daily log. When I was about done, Ulli showed up all sleepy and wanted to know what had happened, he didn’t sleep well! I showed him the entries in the log. Somehow – we were able to laugh about it already.

At six in the morning sharp Sister Agnes from the deaconess hospital called and complained about the nightly noise. We didn’t mind, we knew her. She complained about everything all the time!


10 percent flight

aircraft severance
aircraft severance

(translated by Juergen Matthes)

8 months later. The story with Claudia had become quite serious by now, so I applied for my first 10 percent flight.

I applied for a flight from Düsseldorf to Vienna, via Stuttgart, with Lufthansa Airlines, it was supposed to be our honeymoon trip. A honeymoon trip, as everyone knows, usually takes place after the wedding, but since it takes for ever for such an application to get through all of that red tape I applied for it before our wedding.

Our “belle etage” (our administration department) noticed in a hurry (took them 2 weeks) that Claudia was neither a relative nor married to me and figured out precisely that a flight for her could not be applied for! Even an attempt of clarification of the circumstances of my application didn’t change their mind. But then – I negotiated directly with the lady at Lufthansa’s personnel travel department, and she turned out much more open minded!

Simple solution, as proposed by her: The tickets will be deposited in Düsseldorf at the Lufthansa passage ticket counter, and upon presenting our wedding certificate would be handed to us. Our belle etage found that idea so enspiring that they insisted that the tickets should be deposited at their office instead! Well, even they should have something to administer sometimes …

Wedding-Eve-Party (quite an event in Germany) was on Friday night, our wedding on Saturday and our honeymoon-flight should take place on Sunday. On Sundays our belle etage is not there, and naturally they didn’t pay attention to the dates and hadn’t thought of any alternatives. But – through the heroic activity of our head training officer, who got the tickets out of the administrative office, our flight finally was granted. That’s what I figured …

This back and forward about the tickets was getting quite on my nerves, but at the airport my newlywed wife impressed me even more in some ways. She felt – the flight to Vienna was booked out and we certainly would not be accepted on that flight. As everyone knows, such feelings of a woman can only be corrected by the hard facts (hopefully)!

The procedure of checking in standby-passengers at Lufthansa Airlines is as follows: First the full paying regular passengers board the plane, then their standbys, finally us – if there’s room left! So we had to watch how more and more people get into the plane, even more follow, the hopes of my wife diminish with every person passing us! Such uncertainty is hard to bear for a woman. So she sends me forward every few minutes, through crowds of people, back over to the counter to check with the lady, whether there will be room for us.

This friendly lady, I felt bad to constantly get on her nerves. We came up with a solution: Every time I would come by we would nod to each other, to be seen by my wife. This would help her, would help me and above all, would help my wife …

But – calming down my wife lead to new problems. We hadn’t booked a hotel room in Vienna! What if – there were large conventions in Vienna, Olympic Games and massive quantities of immigrants, possibly all at the same time? I was glad that she didn’t know that so far, if we ever would get on that plane, we only would reach Stuttgart. There the whole game would start over, since the leg from Stuttgart to Vienna was considered as an entirely new flight!

We got to Stuttgart finally. Phew! During the whole flight we discussed about the hotel-situation at Vienna. So the excitement about getting on the Vienna flight was quite a nice change! Honeymoon-trip hard core!

The flight to Vienna (which we really made) was, except multiple anxieties of my wife, uneventful. But in Vienna bad luck finally struck. A little ways after the luggage carousels we found a small booth with a banner saying: Hotel. I couldn’t hold back my wife Claudia, she rushed over to that booth and had booked a room in a hurry! A double at Hotel Wandl. My imagination had been to go downtown, look at the city, at hotels and rooms and choose a nice one without hurry.

Oh well, now we were all set, so off we went to Hotel Wandl. The double had separate beds. And it was our honeymoon-trip!

It yet was a very nice trip. Vienna was worth it, we especially liked the Arts and History Museum. And you learn from experience. The trip back, though the same procedures getting a seat on the flights applied, was much more relaxed. (We were living in Düsseldorf anyway and weren’t in need of a hotel room!)

belle etage or New Years Day at an ATC-Unit

radar control
radar control

(translated by Juergen Matthes)

What is more peaceful than a late shift at the area control center Düsseldorf, at three in the afternoon, assigned to the FIS position. FIS is a working position with a basic radar, a radio frequency and with the outlook of a light workload.

December 31 anyway is a “dead day”, commercial flights are extremely reduced, and private pilots usually handled by FIS are few in the air.

So my friend Dave, an Englishman working for ATC as a “runner”, and myself had set up our chess-board. Dave quickly recorded the current ATIS, then – we would have peace for at least 20 minutes! Dave didn’t have a license for recording the ATIS, but as an Englishman he sounded very professional!

Well, one can’t imagine today, but at the beginning of the 70′s, at the beginning of my career at ATC, it was still so peaceful. At that time Düsseldorf had about 12 commercial flights a day, on top of that 2 postal-flights at night, all of them propeller aircraft. For insiders: There were Vickers Viscounts, Super Connies, Electras and others.

So Dave and I “chessed away”, we wanted to be done by 4:00 pm, then our first break would start, lasting until 5:30. Actually, as mentioned, ATC at that time was a peaceful job, but as always us Germans liked to complicate things.

Radar-control takes place (at that time) in dark rooms without windows. Access to those rooms is normally not possible for the ordinary human being and strictly controlled. But every now and then a group of visitors managed to get access, they were guided as a horde to the “ape-rock”, as we called it, a gallery at the head of the control room.

Visitors on the ape-rock could yet admire our British colleagues at our facility, soldiers responsible for the British airspaces within the Düsseldorf control area, who were situated on on side of the control room, sitting in front of their consoles. The “boys” were in their uniforms and looked really handsome. That had triggered the terrific idea in our “belle etage”, to put the rest of the control personnel into shirts, suits and ties! It would make a better and more professional impression onto visitors, they argued.

Now ATC personnel is, because of the very hard and strict selection they have to undergo when applying for the job, the very complex training, the tremendous responsibility on the job and therefore the resulting pronounced self-confidence quite a peculiar bunch of people! This explains why normally ATC personnel doesn’t argue with any belle etage, but make their standpoint clear by actions.

So it was the case, that being the last day of the year, everybody was dressed like at Mardi Gras! Dave wore a t-shirt with a picture of a naked woman, I wore one which had a suit and a tie painted on it. All the others had similar things on, had funny hats on their heads or wore other gimmicks!

In the 70′s it was still the customs that the head of the whole control-unit (the LDF, as he was called) would show up in the control room at special holidays and shake hands (with his sweaty hands) with everyone on duty! What for, that remained his secret until today! We surely weren’t sad if we had any chance to miss that ceremony! But today, the opportunity was perfect, since the LDF was expected again!

Unfortunately (for him) today, because the last day of the year seemed to be a special occasion, the top-boss of Düsseldorf airport and the station manager of Lufthansa Airlines at Düsseldorf came along! Those two had looks on their face as watching the wrong movie! The LDF was just red in the face, but I mean red! He whispered into everyones ear “… this will have some consequences”. He completely forgot the shaking-hands, so our masquerade had succeeded to save us that ceremony! Naturally everyone was smirking, Dave tried a belly-dance and I acted like a waiter. Only the British stayed cool, but they were always cool! We could imagine how the LDF tried to explain to the visitors that what they had seen there wasn’t normality. We surely had wanted to be able to listen to that explanation!

The whole thing – didn’t have any consequences, naturally. Not because of the masquerade, but there wasn’t any money for work clothes.

The FIS working position was peaceful until – some private pilots had noticed there is someone reserved solely for them! I found myself busy all over sudden to guide Speedy, some Düsseldorf “underworld” king, in his Bonanza home to the airport. Dave suggested sometimes those private pilots will even ask us to reserve a table in a restaurant for them and to provide the menu on the air!

Well, I didn’t care, I had to sit here anyway. Speedy managed to reach the airport in time for the relief to take over. Dave suggested to come along to his house to have coffee and even announced our arrival to his wife.

The Englishmen, a small but very compact group in Düsseldorf, celebrated the last day of the year in a very special way. The wifes stay home, and the men wander from house to house and will be waited on by the wifes! When someone couldn’t walk any further, he just stayed put where he happened to be and then later went home. Much later, most of the time!

Dave meant, I should participate in this, it would be something new and different from most of the parties I would usually go to at the end of the year!

Only problem with that is the uncertainty, where you will end up later more or less disabled! And if you have another shift the next day at nine in the morning, and if you consider that 12 meters (hours) before a shift you are not supposed to drink any alcohol, the idea seemed quite dangerous to me. Instead I felt a tendency to accept an invitation by Peter to attend his party in Bottrop.

Fortunately I met Claudia at Dave’s home. She was a friend of Dave’s wife. Claudia didn’t feel like having drunk Englishmen trying to attract her all night either, since this is how it usually ended up, quoting Dave’s wife. So I arranged with her to take her along to Bottrop after my late-shift was over.

My shift was soon finished, the party in Bottrop was quite unidirectional, slanted towards Claudia, I would say. With other words, Claudia (my later wife) and I started to be together!

At such events the time flies, there was only time for a quick breakfast at the Bottrop railroad station. Then my next shift …

Dave didn’t look very good when he showed up at work! But you had to give him credit that he came to work after all. He even lasted through his whole shift, however he couldn’t walk straight, and no word about chess, although air-traffic was light on New Years Day also! Myself, I wasn’t feeling too good either, but that was compensated by pleasant thoughts and memories about the past day.

House, bathroom, bed, allohol, sex