Fifty years on, Tulla staffer recollects an thrilling, ‘futuristic’ place

The airport turns 50 on Wednesday however due to COVID-19 restrictions, there shall be no public celebration.

As a substitute, a 50 shall be painted on the airport’s tarmac and a 3D illuminated signal shall be put in on the Melbourne Wall in Terminal 2 departures.

Art and purple lounge chairs: Melbourne Airport circa 1978.

Artwork and purple lounge chairs: Melbourne Airport circa 1978.Credit score:Civil Aviation Historic Society

A espresso desk e book has been created only for employees.

Longtime employees member, Vic Zammit, 65, remembers the airport in 1970 as “futuristic”.

You could possibly see a film or an area exhibition within the Astrojet Centre – a two-storey constructing in entrance of the terminal.

Within the TopAir bar and restaurant on the terminal’s second flooring, you might drink alcohol lengthy after Melbourne pubs closed at 10pm, and likewise on Sundays.

Airport bars in the 1970s were open later than city pubs.

Airport bars within the 1970s have been open later than metropolis pubs. Credit score:Civil Aviation Historic Society

Guests gawked at big flapper boards that introduced flight arrivals and departures, one letter at a time.

Crowds watched planes from open-air balconies. You have been welcome to smoke, just about anyplace.

When Mr Zammit was 15, two months after the airport opened, he obtained a college vacation job tending the rose backyard, which has lengthy been obliterated by the multi-storey automotive park.

After leaving college, Mr Zammit had stints in admin on the Division of Civil Aviation and at Essendon Airport, earlier than in 1977 scoring his first full-time job at Melbourne Airport, issuing safety IDs.

'Futuristic': Melbourne Airport in 1971 with its rose garden, where the multi-storey car park now is.

‘Futuristic’: Melbourne Airport in 1971 with its rose backyard, the place the multi-storey automotive park now could be.Credit score:Civil Aviation Historic Society

Through the 1980s he was a part of a search and rescue unit based mostly on the airport, as soon as performing as a “spotter” in a aircraft looking for a lacking yacht within the Melbourne-to-Hobart yacht race – it was by no means discovered.

His present job as a supervisor within the Airport Co-ordination Centre contains assigning arriving planes a gate and altering gates if there are gear faults and delays.

“No two days are the identical,” stated Mr Zammit. “It’s good to be level-headed, you want to have the ability to deal successfully in a excessive stress scenario.”

As an airport obligation supervisor within the 1980s, he escorted rock band the Rolling Stones to their flight, as crowds applauded.

Vic Zammit at work in 1985.

Vic Zammit at work in 1985.Credit score:Melbourne Airport

However what stands out for Mr Zammit are the on a regular basis scenes – at worldwide departures, he used to observe aged farewell family, realizing they may by no means see them once more.

Mr Zammit’s father was an early airport electrician. Now Mr Zammit’s son and niece work there – in safety and insurance coverage.


Mr Zammit stated the airport expanded quickly after privatisation in 1997, notably in worldwide obligation free, which right now is “like a division retailer”.

He stated there are nonetheless many individuals who know him and cease to talk. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the airport is the quietest he’s ever seen it however he nonetheless loves being right here.

“It’s an thrilling place to work,” he stated.

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