The gallery is sponsored by National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the UK’s leading air traffic management company, which has a very long history with Bletchley Park. As well as it being their past home to the company’s engineering training college, it was actually used to train air traffic controllers, so the display by NATS has an important link with the past asexplained on the story boards in the gallery.

The gallery gives extraordinary insights into everyday air travel that will astonish you.

Features of the exhibition and simulator include:

  • A large panoramic three-screen 3D airport tower simulator, actually used by NATS to train their tower air traffic controllers.

  • An Alpha workstation as used in the London Area Control Centre (LACC) in Swanwick, which can show approach control and area control simulations.

  • A vintage round green-screen IRIS radar display that helped keep the skies over Britain safe for over 25 years, plus the working PDP-11 hardware that powers the system -- as restored by TNMOC volunteers.

  • NATS history with video footage.

  • Historic artefacts such as the first National Airspace System (NAS) logbook, the final flight strip for Concorde and parts from the early IBM 9020D air traffic control computer.

The simulator can be run in two modes:

In replay mode

The tower simulator and Alpha workstation can show pre-recorded simulations of actual trainee controllers managing aircraft movements in the air, landings, take-offs and movements on the ground. You can also listen to radio communication between the trainee controllers and the sudo ‘pilots’ (actually the trainer acting as the pilot of several aircraft in the simulation).

In interactive mode (still under development)

You will be able to experience what it is like to be an approach or area controller managing aircraft flights on the Alpha workstation, and a tower controller managing aircraft landings, take-offs and ground movements.