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ABinBoston
11-13-2012, 03:27 AM
I am working on a story where a commercial flight disappears in the 1950s
During a storm while communicating with air traffic control in a us airport

50 years later - during a storm the flight reappears at the same airport

What would the air traffic control at a large us airport do in this case when an unidentified ovintage plane is trying to land

Would they alert the air force? Would they have fighter jets escort them?
What might happen when the pane lands

I am trying to build a dialogue between the pilots of the vintage plane and modern day air traffic control

I am also trying to build a dialogue between the pilots of the plane with the 1950s air controllers

Any help is appreciated

King Neptune
11-13-2012, 05:10 AM
These daays the procedure would be to call in the Air Force, but you might get the controller to make conversation with the pilot and see where that leads.

That's a good premise. You might want to find out how the pilot would have talked to a controller back the.

cbenoi1
11-13-2012, 06:49 AM
I checked a few airports in the UK and Canada and the frequencies haven't changed since the 50s. So talking to the tower is possible.

The controllers might be surprised to have a very slow airplane in the circuit and not too happy to divert all the following traffic elsewhere. A DC-3 trying to land at O'Hare today would cause a shitload of delays.

The old pilot might be trying to navigate using NDB / VOR which may no longer be present at some airports because those airports have changed substantially since. Same with inbound / outbound and emergency routes. Many airports have their main strips doubled (left and right), which may confuse the old pilot who is used to only one landing strip.

-cb

ABinBoston
11-13-2012, 07:29 AM
I checked a few airports in the UK and Canada and the frequencies haven't changed since the 50s. So talking to the tower is possible.

Perfect! - more realistic!

The controllers might be surprised to have a very slow airplane in the circuit and not too happy to divert all the following traffic elsewhere. A DC-3 trying to land at O'Hare today would cause a shitload of delays.

Even better! chaos because of the old plane in modern times is what I am looking to create
I did not think of an old plane being slower resulting in delays - thank you for this detail

The old pilot might be trying to navigate using NDB / VOR which may no longer be present at some airports because those airports have changed substantially since. Same with inbound / outbound and emergency routes. Many airports have their main strips doubled (left and right), which may confuse the old pilot who is used to only one landing strip.

Again - the more confusion the better!
I want the pilots to be as confused as the ATCs

Thanks!

All who reply will get a free copy of my book when finished in 2013

AB

thothguard51
11-13-2012, 07:39 AM
More than likely, the controller is going to try to divert the mystery plane to a less congested airport. If the air force intercepts, they too will try to divert the plane away from the busy airport. A DC 3 type of plane can land on a shorter runway.

Once down on the ground, they are going to have the plane taxi to an area where it is out of the way of a terminal or other buildings. Police should also arrive and seal the area off until the FBI or Homeland security arrives to take over.

Of course all of this is going to confuse the pilots of the mystery plane as well as any passengers because in the 1950s, most passenger disembarked right at the terminal.

frimble3
11-13-2012, 12:04 PM
Also, it might really depend on exactly what airport you're using. Vancouver International Airport (second busiest in Canada, apparently) built it's current main terminal in 1968, and upgraded since then. (Buildings and runways) The original terminal is now the secondary 'South Terminal'.

Our back-up airport, Abbotsford, was originally used by the Air Force, until 1952, when it was closed for almost 10 years.

So, a pilot from 1950 to 'now' would be totally flummoxed by the changed landscape at YVR (Vancouver) and probably thrown by the instructions to proceed to YXX, which has had major expansion since then.
Especially if, in your story, the pilot is unaware that time has passed. If he goes into the storm in 1950 and comes out, a couple of minutes later, unknowingly in the now, and eager to land, that's going to make for hugely different reactions, from a man who knew that he flew into a storm, had some sort of experience, and then managed to return home.

melindamusil
11-14-2012, 04:21 AM
Have you heard of the Tenerife airport disaster?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenerife_airport_disaster
In a nutshell- a bomb threat and bad weather forced a bundle of airplanes to be redirected from Spanish airports to the Canary Islands. There was a thick fog and the only way the control tower could communicate with airplanes was by radio. Due to multiple communication misunderstandings, one (large) airplane tried to take off while another (large) airplane was still on the runway. Airplanes crashed into each other and several hundred people died.
As a result of this disaster, the FAA and various international airplane associations made some big changes to communications between the tower and airplanes. It involves some standard phrases that are only spoken at very specific times during takeoff and landing, and more importantly, the pilot repeats the instructions from the tower.

(for example)
Aircraft: Boston Tower, Warrior tree (three) fife foxtrot, holding short of two two right.
Tower: Warrior Tree fife foxtrot, Boston Tower, runway two two right, cleared for immediate takeoff.
Aircraft: Roger, tree fife foxtrot, cleared for immediate takeoff, two two right.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_procedure

The Tenerife disaster was in 1977. If your plane originated in the 1950s, the pilot would not be familiar with these procedures. Could lead to some interesting frustrations/misunderstandings/confusions between the pilot and tower.

Trebor1415
11-14-2012, 10:00 AM
You should check to see how the RADAR and transponder technologies have changed in that time as well. Did commercial planes in the 50's carry the same kind of transponder that is used now? The way it works now is that the plane sends ID info via a transponder and the display on the controllers screen comes from the telemetry link between the transmitting transponder and the ATC equipment. This is why the aircraft "blips" (for lack of a better word) have ID info, altitude and speed attached right to their symbol on the screen.

If a 1950's airplane has a transponder that not compatible with current systems, none of that identifying info or info on speed or altitude would show up.

My understanding is if there is no transponder what shows up instead is a faint "skin paint" where the RADAR actually bounces off the skin of the aircraft and a different symbol (lacking altitude and speed and ID info) shows up on the screen. The lack of transponder info would complicate, if not confuse, the situation even more.

Heck, I'm not even 100% sure if 1950's commercial aircraft used transponders of if the ATC system was totally based on skin paints. It's something to check at least.

Btw, you do know The Twilight Zone did an episode where a WWI Sopwith Camel landed at a Brit airfield 40 years after it took off, right?

ClareGreen
11-14-2012, 05:57 PM
A quick check of Wiki says that transponders were around by the 50's. I'd think that, given the number of aging aircraft around the world, most big towers will have the capability to understand most transponder signals. They probably won't have airspeed and altitude on the transponder signal, but they'll get something. You definitely need an expert for that, though - I can only point to the nice chaps and chapesses at PPRuNe, probably the History forum. http://www.pprune.com/

One thought I just had is that if this aircraft vanished, when it reappears someone listening to the ATC frequency will put two and two together in short order. Aviators are a superstitious bunch, and every airfield has its own list of stories, mysteries and catastrophies. There'll be people working on the airfield (or watching at the fence) who know the story, maybe even working somewhere in the control tower - but either way, someone should work out what's going on in short order.

(Also, it might be worth watching some Dr. Who. There was an episode or two on just this - one of the Eccleston ones, I think.)