Teen lands air traffic control job on birthday

Ben Harrety in front of Teesside Airport control tower
Ben (left) joined the air traffic control team after an interview on his 18th birthday [Steven Curtis Phtotography]

A teenager has landed a job in air traffic control after being interviewed for the post on his 18th birthday.

Life-long aviation enthusiast Ben Harrety applied for the vacancy of assistant at Teesside Airport's tower while finishing his A-levels.

Ben, from Wynyard near Hartlepool, began learning to fly when he was aged 14.

He said he first wanted to become an air traffic controller during a tour of the airport while he was taking lessons.

“I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to come straight out of my A-Levels and come into this job," Ben said.

“Because I’ve obsessed over aviation so much, I’ve perhaps been able to find my feet quite well as I understand some of the aviation terms and language.

“But I’ve not gone all the way yet – there’s a lot to learn and I’ve only just scratched the surface,” he added.

Dan Parsons, new recruit to Teesside Airport air traffic control
Dan Parsons brings six years of military experience to the control tower [Steven Curtis Photography]

Dan Parsons, 33, is another recent recruit, having trained for the civil sector after six years of military experience.

He said: “I’ve loved it. While we adhere to the same rules, the styles of military and civilian controlling are different.

Mr Parsons deals with a wider variety of aircraft and greater complexity in air traffic at Teesside Airport.

“It’s a steep learning curve, but I’ve never worked with a friendlier or happier team," he added.

Phil Forster, managing director of the airport, said the recruits had been a "big boost".

“Recruitment in air traffic control has been tough nationally in recent years, but we’ve bucked that trend," he said.

“It’s even more encouraging to see more workers from our region taking on roles and gaining their qualifications."

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