Behind the scenes with BBC 5 Live star Ady Dolan, Air Traffic Controller


By Heathrow

Published 19th February 2016

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Ady Dolan is one of the most recognisable faces of Heathrow. The NATS Air Traffic Controller has featured in multiple documentaries and broadcasts from the airport. Ady features on tomorrow night’s BBC 5 Live programme (#5LiveHeathrow) so we thought we’d catch up with the Air Traffic Controller to find out what he loves about his job, his favourite moment at Heathrow, and why Concorde is his favourite aircraft. Enjoy!

How long have you been an Air Traffic Controller for?

15 years

Best thing about your job? 

The view’s not bad! The people that I work with make it a great place to be.

How did you become an Air Traffic Controller?

I was working at Newcastle Airport in my university break, and I decided to learn to fly. As part of the pilot’s licence training, I was taken on a visit to the Air Traffic Controller, and as soon as I walked in I knew that it’s what I wanted to do. You’re right in the middle of the action, with the best view on the airfield.

What makes a good Air Traffic Controller?

Someone who is able to make sound decisions in a short space of time, who is calm under pressure. Most important of all though, is someone who is able to work really well as part of a bigger team.

You’ve been involved in television and radio shows, seen the Red Arrows fly past … the list goes on. What’s been your favourite moment in your ATC career to date?

The events surrounding the retirement of a Concorde. The last few weeks were great fun, culminating in the three final Concordes landing in sequence. I worked on the BBC broadcast, and spoke live on air to the crew of the final aircraft. Whilst it was an awesome sight, it was also a very poignant occasion.

Favourite aircraft?

It has to be Concorde. No matter whether it was your first visit to Heathrow or you’d been here for 30 years – everything stopped to watch Concorde.

You’ve taken some spectacular pics from the airport, do you have a favourite?

Not really, I just try to capture things that look interesting or different, which you might not be able to see from any other vantage point.

What do you use when taking your photos? And any tips for others?

Just an iPhone! Some of the guys at work take some amazing photos with some fantastic kit, but the key is just being in the right place at the right time.

Favourite Film/Tv Show?

Something I watch whenever it’s on TV is the Bourne series of movies, but I have a soft spot for Airplane…. “surely you can’t be serious? I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley”. I love the big boxset series like 24, True Detective and Game of Thrones, but I usually don’t get a choice when the kids are around!

Favourite band?

I’m actually in a band and we play all sorts from eighties’ cheese to rock and funk, but if I had to choose something to stick on in the car on the way home from work, it would have to be AC/DC.

Any Pets?

No, but the kids are hassling me to get them one. I’m thinking tortoise.

For information on Air Traffic Control careers with NATS please click here.

Get involved with BBC 5 Live tonight using #5LiveHeathrow and follow us @yourHeathrow.

Also check out @AdyDolan and @NATSPressOffice for more spectacular pics and content from air traffic controllers!


By Heathrow

Published 19th February 2016