Blog. Britain's Busiest Airport

Profile: Ian, Senior Airfield Officer

Men in high-visibility jackets with marshalling bats
Ian (front) gets a quick lesson in old-style aircraft marshalling

We first meet Ian in Episode 2 of HBBA as he learns to marshal an aircraft the old-fashioned way, under the watchful eyes of mentor Simon. We asked Ian about his job in Airside Safety and the career change that brought him to Heathrow.

Here’s what we asked Ian — tell us in the comments what else you’d like to know.

Q&A: Ian

How long have you been working at Heathrow?

Six months.

How did you get into your job?

I worked in the aviation industry for 23 years before moving into health and safety. Then, when travelling through Morocco airport, I missed the buzz of an airport and so saw this job [as a way] to combine both. I never envisaged I would be driving up the runway. Now I get the thrill of seeing aircraft taking off and it probably stopped me being a health and safety bore – according to my wife.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am a Scout leader so I help the Scouts with the risk assessments, as I enjoy bushcraft and camping. I enjoy rifle shooting, watching films and spending time with my family.

Favourite moment at Heathrow?

Marshalling a 747 on to a stand, because it is humungous. It’s like a massive tower in front of you and I only have two little wooden sticks. It’s got the wow factor. I also marshalled a helicopter as well and that terrified me.

Favourite thing about your job?

Being at the airport. I get the ability to watch aircraft – it’s the buzz of the airport. At the moment I do so much, including the runway inspection with aircraft coming down over me. I enjoy coming to work. It is rewarding being here knowing you are part of the cog keeping this big machine going – contributing to this massive airport.

Have you always loved planes?

It started from watching war films with my father and going plane-spotting with him. We would go to Birmingham and watch the aircraft come in.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Methodical, inquisitive and traditional.

Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport

Series 4: Wednesdays on ITV1

The documentary cameras return for a behind-the-scenes look at the people who keep Heathrow running. Meet air traffic controllers, sanitation engineers, Border Force officers and front-line Passenger Experience Managers – and share their daily challenges in this ‘city within a city’ where no two days are alike. Tune in on Wednesdays from 2nd May.

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