Aldis Lamp & Very Pistol - c.1940s

The stock tools-in-trade of the well-dressed Air Traffic Controller in the 1940s were the Aldis signalling lamp and the Very flare pistol (on desk). Most light aircraft in those days were not radio equipped - and radio did not even make an appearance in Control Towers until the war years. It is thought that this photo was taken in the Tower at Sydney/Mascot in the late 1940s. The Controller is not identified.

Control of non-radio aerodrome traffic was effected by signalling to aircraft using red, green or white, steady or flashing lights. Alternatively, the flare pistol could be used to fire red or green flares. Until well into the 1960s non-radio light aircraft were still being routinely handled using these methods.

Although the signalling lamp is still a feature of all Control Towers today for use in cases of radio failure, the flare pistol has sadly gone the way of the dodo.

(Photo: CAHS collection)


Read about visual signals for the control of aerodrome traffic

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