How do you catch the Aviation-Bug?

C-130 Hercules
C-130 Hercules

Even as a small kid I was fascinated by airplanes. We used to live in a small suburb of Hannover, Isernhagen it was called, and our home was about half a mile off the final approach track of Hannover Airport. At that time the airport had only one runway, today it is RWY 27L. At that time there was quite a bit of traffic to and from Berlin through the Central Corridor. Pan Ams (called Clipper), BEA (British European Airlines, called B-Line) served Hannover with DC-6 and Vikers Viscount, and pretty soon I knew their typical engine noises. Besides them there were Convair Metropolitans and Super Constellations (Super Stars) of Lufthansa Airlines and others. I especially remember the Super-Conny, it’s 3-fin tail looked like a fork, I thought!

Much later, I had my own bicycle and was allowed to roam a bit further away from home, I pedaled on my own to the airport and stood next to the fence close to the threshold of runway 27L, right at the spot where the airplanes taxied onto the runway. At that time the airplanes still used to perform a run up, which sounded very spectacular, especially with the DC-6. Then the pilots let go of the brakes and the airplanes thundered down the runway, I thought that was great. And the Viscount with its typical turbine-whine, I thought it was cool too (but at that time no one called it cool)!

I always dreamed of flying along, but at that time one could hardly afford it. As a small child my parents had given my sister and me a flightseeing trip over Hannover, but I hardly could remember it. My parents took their first vacation trip by plane in 1962, to Tunesia, right at the day when the big storm surge hit at the North Sea coast. I adored the pictures my father brought back from their trip, I felt bad though because there were very few pictures from airplanes and their flight.

In school I was not too good a student! Especially German and English, also Math, somehow I didn’t like too much! My interest in airplanes was manifested in construction of a few model airplanes and by reading about adventure books dealing about aviation, but, off course, all those activities were not honored at school! So it went on for years, still I went to the airport now and then and enjoyed watching the first jets, Pan Am 727s and BEA BAC 1-11s, thundering down the runway. Also the first Caravelles showed up at Hannover every once in a while.

1969 my father decided to fill in an application for me to participate in an exchange program lasting an entire year. I was not too enthusiastic about that idea at first, but (at that time parents still had some authority) my father’s remark was “you will do that now” and that was it!

It took until May 1970 before I learned where I would be sent to. It could have been the USA, England, France, Australia, Brazil, Japan or even Iceland. You had to state a number of countries as your choice for the exchange year, but you had no guarantee where you would end up. The listed countries were my choice, I was well aware if it would be Japan or Iceland, I would have quite a language-problem!

Around Pentecost I got a letter from a family, who wrote that I was to be their new (guest) son for a year. They lived in Waverly, Nebraska, in the USA! Where in the world was that?? – It turned out, Waverly was a small town close to the capital of the state Nebraska, Lincoln. I would fly to the States in July together with a whole bunch of other exchanges, after a preparation conference in Bonn.

My time in the USA and the experiences, adventures and happenings are a different story! The flight over the ocean, via Iceland to Philadelphia in a DC8-63 was very exciting. After another conference close to Philadelphia there was another flight from Chicago to Omaha in a 727 from United. My guest-family picked me up at Omaha.

During my year in Nebraska I had to go to school, naturally. I went to Waverly High School, 12th grade. In Germany I had already completed 12th grade, at that time it took 13 years to complete high school in Germany and graduate, so I faced having to pass through 13th grade in Germany after my return. Here in Waverly I had to decide which classes in the American school system I would take for the year. To stay halfway current, I took math and physics, but also some practical classes like typing and drivers education. The latter saved me a lot of money after my return to Germany, since I had obtained my American drivers license before the year was over!

My physics teacher, Mike, was only 7 years older than I! His class was interesting and fun. Some time down the year the subject was vector calculations. Normally I would have said: “Yawn, we had that some time ago, how boring!” But with Mike vector calculations got a very different taste!

Apparently Mike had optained his pilots license already some time ago, and he now explained that vector calculations were used amongst other things to calculate tracks of airplanes to a destination considering wind, speed, heading and other factors. He divides us in groups of three and gave us a calculation: Prepare a flight from Lincoln to Beatrice, Columbus and back, the latter two being smaller airports not too far from Lincoln. He had gotten the actual wind on the ground / aloft and the actual weather before physics class had started. After all groups (there were four of them) had finished, Mike announced all over sudden: “… who feels like it and will chip in a few bucks as contribution to the costs, he can fly along with me this afternoon to prove if the calculations were correct!” I was speechless! Naturally I participated! Such a practical reference to the class, I never could have imagined anything like that in my own school at home!

The flight with Mike was great fun, we flew in a Piper Cherokee. Also our calculations were (almost) correct. I was so impressed, that I searched the opportunity to fly along with Mike a few more times during the rest of my stay. Sometimes I even was allowed to touch the control-yoke! And when Mike offered a basic aeronautics course in the second semester of the school-year, I naturally participated in that as well. At the end of my year I had caught the Aviation-Bug quite good!

Back home, I first had to finish my high-school career by passing through the 13. grade in a new class. My old class had finished school in the meantime after they had passed the graduation exams, which are mandatory in Germany. I struggled through the dry (and boring) subject matters, but after a year I also passed the exams and graduated. I was glad that was over with! All the time the idea rested in my head to get a job somehow connected with aviation. But which one, and how? I had asked Lufthansa airlines to send me information material about their careers as airline pilots, but I found out that at that time was too tall to meet their requirements. Also their very stiff ability tests scared me a bit.

So I enrolled at Hannover Technical University in mechanical engineering thinking I could specialize later to air- and space-engineering. Unfortunately it was the time of the first oil-shock. At that time the outlook for aviation and space was pretty grim, at least in Germany. The project VFW 614 was discontinued, it wasn’t sure whether the first airbus A300 would be a success, the vertical-takeoff plane of Dornier was scrapped, in short it didn’t look good.

Therefore I struggled with dry theoretical issues again! Especially thermodynamics was hard to digest. Maybe it was the professor’s fault, because a lot of fellow beginners had the same problems. One of the major exams of thermodynamics, about 90% of the students flunked!

After the end of the second semester I decided, besides taking a summer job, to fly back to Nebraska and visit my former guest-family and some old friends from my exchange year. Over the past years a nice and lasting contact had established with a “hard core” of friends, to which my former teacher, Mike, belonged as well. Mike had organized some extracurricular activities for his students while I was there, one of them was a cave trip and another one a canoe trip, both in the state of Missouri. Those trips infested my with two other “bugs”, since I both went spelunking and canoeing as hobbies later on in my life. At a meeting of the hard core the idea came up to repeat such a tour while I was there.

Mike had left Waverly High School in the meantime and had joined the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics for a full time job in aviation as a professional pilot (sometimes even for the governor of Nebraska), as an instructor and a tutor for aeronautics presentations. It was his idea, to make a cavetrip in Missouri over a weekend and fly down there. Driving to Missouri by car would have taken far too long, about 12 hours one way, too much for one weekend. Mike had the opportunity to rent one, even two airplanes from the University of Nebraska Flying club for a very reasonable price and therefore make this trip possible. Again I was speechless about this perspective.

The cave trip to Missouri was a great adventure, but that is a different story (see 3714 Tango). Shortly before I had to fly back home, Mike took me up in a Cherokee and gave me a couple flying lessons, also he took the hard core for a visit to the Strategic Air & Space Museum, at that time located at Offut Air Base close to Omaha, Nebraska. It was very interesting, and after that visit we went to Omaha Approach (Tracon) and watched the air traffic controllers. I was so fascinated, I could talk to some controllers, sit at the radar console and watch them handle the traffic.

Back home I started my summer job, together with some fellow students we were employed by Gilde Brewery of Hannover as assistant beer delivers! That was quite a job! The task was to be front-seat-passenger in a big truck delivering loads of beer to distant places and cities. It was fun! Besides I did some research on the possibility to join ATC in Germany. I visited Hannover Tower, the approach unit and even Hannover ACC (enroute center), which was still located at Hannover at that time. I was somehow a bit disappointed by realizing they were still using ancient technology there (steam radar, as it was called)! In Omaha I had seen digital and computerized radar processing already. But I filed an application anyway, also since I was assured that air traffic control in Germany was under full development and soon everything would “be better”!

Pretty soon I got an invitation to a qualifying examination, at that time it took place in Frankfurt. It lasted 2 days, and you didn’t get the results until some time later. My fellow students were back at school, but I continued the job at the brewery for a while, I wanted to wait if anything would turn out of my application. And then sometime in November I got a letter telling me that I had passed and they wanted to invite me for a theoretical course at the Air Traffic Control School in Munich at the beginning of December.

So the Aviation-Bug finally led to something constructive! I worked as an air traffic controller for 33 years until I retired a few years ago. I stayed in Bremen for 2 years after the theoretical training in Munich, then a short intermezzo in Frankfurt and then the rest of the time in Karlsruhe at Rhein Control, being an Upper Area Control Center. Some years later I even optained my private pilots license, of course with Mike in Nebraska. Unfortunately it was of not much use to me here in Germany. Anyway, I have stayed interested in aviation over all these years, besides being a controller, have followed several adventures of aviation with “hot ears” (e.g.. first solo balloon flight across the Atlantic, see A Balloon, a Weather Report and a Broken Foot), and I still get excited watching a “heavy” take off at Frankfurt Airport or anywhere else. You see what the Aviation-Bug can do to a person!



A-A-S, the three Musketeers

Aviation serverance
Aviation serverance

The title of this story must seem like a puzzle. It will be solved as the story progresses.

It was the early 80’s. I was working as a radar-controller at Karlsruhe UAC, better known to the aviation world as Rhein Control. In my free time, besides caring for my wife and home, I had several hobbies, one of them was amateur radio.

I was licensed since 1979, known to the radio world as DF6OM. It was fun to sit in front of the radio being able to talk to people all over the world. This was a long time before cell phones, computers, internet, chat-rooms, email, facebook and all of those gimmicks. Especially fun was joining a daily meeting called “International Air Traffic Control Net”. This was a group of people either involved with ATC or other parts of aviation, like pilots, aviation technicians, any individual with some connection or interest to the aviation world. This group had been started by Ernie, W1BFA, a retired watch supervisor of an ATC unit in Maine. Ernie got up very early every morning and started calling on 14.277 Mhz, and eventually a group of 5, 6 or 7 people joined in and chatted about all kinds of matters, mostly connected with aviation. Of those people one might sit in Maastricht, another one at Algiers airport, another one in the center of England and so forth. I joined the group as often as I could, it was much fun. Ernie has passed away by now, but the I-ATC Net is still active, meeting every day at 12:00 UTC, now on 14.279 Mhz.

One day, after early-shift, I got home, and since lunch was not ready yet, I switched on my radio which I had left sitting on the I-ATC Net frequency. I immediately noticed that there was turmoil on that frequency. Ernie was there, so was Kamel, 7X2BK, the friend from Algiers, and a few others. They were constantly shouting “cq Japan, cq Japan”, which meant they wanted to have contact with some station from Japan. But – no Japanese amateur station seemed to hear them. Now – the shortwave is a very picky lady, sometimes she is in a good mood, other times she is not. That means, sometimes you can talk to the whole world with a wet thumb as your antenna, and sometimes it is very difficult to reach some areas. That is because of the laws of propagation, which depends mostly on the sun’s activity, the time of day and year, the weather and other factors. These factors create the reflection layers in the atmosphere which will bounce your radio-waves back to earth a long distance away from your location.

But what in the world was going on there now? I listened in for a while, finally by catching some of the conversation in between cq calls. They wanted to have contact to a Japanese station because they were searching for a very special medicine, which seemed to be produced only in Japan. Apparently there had been an accident to a young girl in Yugoslavia, she must have badly hurt her spinal bone and must have fallen short of disrupting her spinal chord. This medicine was a stimulant for growth and regrowth of nerve tissue, so they badly needed it there. A friend of this girls family was an amateur radio operator, or ham, as we say, and he knew about the I-ATC Net and asked them to help. So they had found out the name of the medicine, and also that it was manufactured and available only in Japan.

The shortwave kept on being picky at that time, no one in Japan heard the desperate calls. Once or twice the name of the medicine was stated (which I have forgotten in the meantime). It sounded like a familiar name of a medicine you hear every now and then. So I got curious. We have an international drugstore in Karlsruhe, so I got on the telephone and called them. I got a nice lady on the phone, I explained to her who I was, what I was doing and what I heard on shortwave. I gave her the name of the medicine and asked whether she knew anything about it. She took a while and then came back and said “Sir, we happen to have one package of this stuff right here in our store. It has been ordered by a medical professor for studies, but has not been picked up yet!”

I got very excited when I heard this. I asked her if this would be available for a good purpose, and she said yes, if I would be able to provide an official confirmation that this medicine was needed for an international emergency.

So here I was. What should I do now? Well – first I had to break in to the I-ATC Net to let them know that I located that medicine right here in the center of Europe. The fellows were still shouting and griping out their “cq Japan”. In a transmission pause I keyed my mike, stated “Break break”, thereafter identified myself. When Kamel, who seemed to handle the communication this day since Ernie was so weak, handed me back the mike, I informed them about what I had found out. Immediately everyone got very excited too, they urged me to get the medicine as soon as possible. I assured them I would try everything I could and I would call back.

So here I was again. Now what? There were two problems: Getting an official confirmation, and figuring out a way to get the medicine to Yugoslavia as quickly as possible. How to approach that problem? First – I got on the phone again and called the lady at the drugstore in Karlsruhe. She promised to hold the medicine, she said that it had been sitting waiting for that professor for a while anyway, and she could order another pack from Japan and it wouldn’t make a difference if that professor had to wait a bit longer. I promised I would provide the confirmation needed.

By that time I had forgotten lunch! My wife Maria was in the room with me, all excited too and listening and watching how things progressed. I now had to think – what will be next? I decided to call the fire department respectively their rescue squad. So I did.

What then happened was very frustrating. Their first question: “Who are you anyway?” The next statement: “Well, this could be anyone pretending a story like that!” After long and exhausting explanations – amateur radio, I-ATC Net, international medical emergency, need for a medicine, confirmation and information about transportation possibilities, their reaction was: “This is not within our responsibility, call the police!” So I did.

What then happened was very frustrating. Their first question: “Who are you anyway?” The next statement: “Well, this could be anyone …” – I think I just have written that! But it was exactly like the previous paragraph, their last statement: “… not responsible, call the Red Cross!” So I did.

What then happened was very frustrating. Their first question: “Who are you …?” … … “not responsible, call the fire department!” I was ready to pull my hair out.

In the meantime my radio was blaring since the others on the air kept calling for me wanting to know how things were coming along. I felt this whole thing was slowly slipping out of my hands! So I got on the local vhf frequency and called, wanting to know if anyone of my local amateur radio club, which is called A36, was on the air. Fortunately it was the case. I asked them whether they could help me with this case and take care of the shortwave traffic for me, while I would continue trying to get anything going on the telephone. So they did, and it took some load off my back.

Next try on the telephone was Lufthansa Airlines. After the original question “… who are you anyway …” they at least listened to the story, but then were of not much help either. They told me I could ship that package as VIC (very important cargo), but that would be connected with costs of at least DM500 at that time, about $250! I would have to bring the package to the airport in Frankfurt myself and deliver it personally with address of the recipient at the cargo terminal. So this was not very encouraging either. Now what???

Finally, I got the idea to call my work. There I got Hans on the phone, who happened to be the active watch-supervisor at that time, and who also was the boss of my own shift team. He patiently listened to my story and then told me: “Now sit down and watch the phone, but don’t do anything else. I will see what I can do to help. I will call you back as soon as possible.” So I did.

It took about half an hour, during that time I joined in on shortwave and told the group that something might be going on, but we needed to be patient. Finally the phone rang again and Hans was on. He told me: “Now you get in your car and go to the drugstore in Karlsruhe and get the package. The lady is informed. You take it home. You are off duty tomorrow, but you get up early and drive to Frankfurt airport. Be there at 6:30 am. Get to Lufthansa crew dispatch. Have them take the package and deliver it to Captain soandso. Be sure to get a receipt for this. Have the Captain, who will be on a flight to Belgrade in the morning, take the package with him and deliver it to an individual you will have to coordinate yet with your shortwave friends. Have him get a receipt too. Go home then and rest, and tell me how things went during your next shift!” I was stunned!

So I did as he told me. I called on shortwave and informed the group about this. They gave me a name of a person who would be at the airport in Belgrade. Then I went to Karlsruhe, the Lady in fact gave me the package. I had to pay for it, I don’t remember what it was, but it might have been $50 or so. Next morning I was in Frankfurt and delivered the package as told. And it eventually reached Belgrade and the girl.

What had happened? Well Hans, being the active watch-supervisor of Rhein Control that day, had called SAR Center and told them about that story. SAR in turn had then called Lufthansa Airlines and ORDERED them to follow along with the described procedure. When SAR calls, apparently everyone says “Yes Sir!!”. SAR also called the drugstore and later provided the confirmation. So all over sudden everything went like greased.

Our local amateur radio club sponsored the costs for the medicine. And some time later we received a thank you letter from that girl with a picture, who eventually recovered from her injuries.

And now the puzzle is solved, who the three musketeers were: A A S = ATC, Amateur Radio and SAR!

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

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