I have always enjoyed playing a part in flypasts, so when I was asked if I wanted to be involved with the one being organised for the King’s Birthday, I jumped at the chance! Over the years, I’ve controlled several flypasts over London. My most memorable was controlling the Red Arrows during the opening ceremony for the London Olympics in 2012.

These days, our military colleagues from 78 Squadron retain executive control of the aircraft during large scale flypasts such as on Saturday, although entry into controlled airspace does have to be approved by our civilian controllers.

For any flypast, a Temporary Operating Instruction (TOI) is released prior to the event. This TOI details any specific ATC procedures and processes that are to be adopted for the duration. They are created by our ATC procedures department many weeks prior and go through a rigorous safety assessment before being released.

King’s Birthday Flypast 15 June 2024

My role in the flypast was as the civilian flypast coordinator. I was stationed with the military controllers who were speaking to the various elements of the flypast from the London Area Control ops room. I had to liaise with my civilian controller colleagues to ensure that the airspace was ‘sterilised’ and then relay the clearance to enter controlled airspace directly to the military tactical controllers.

After overflying Buckingham Palace, the aircraft split up and routed in different directions back to their operating bases. Most of the aircraft routed outside controlled airspace, but some aircraft routed West before turning to the North-West and climbing into controlled airspace.

F35 jets at the end of the ceremony.

The egress was made more challenging this year as weather was impacting many of the adjacent airspace sectors. Aircraft were not quite where they would be normally, so we were unable to approve climbs and turns as quickly as we might have done on a ‘standard’ day. Nonetheless, working together we managed to get them away to their destinations.

The important thing of course was that all elements of the flypast were able to operate safely and be overhead Buckingham Palace at the correct time without any major disruption to civilian air traffic. This couldn’t have been possible without the hard work of our support teams, engineers and civilian and military controller colleagues. It was a real honour to play a small part in such a large-scale event.

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