Hello! As you already know from my homepage my name is Paul Ashford. I graduated from Dandenong High School , in Victoria, Australia, in 1969 and after a short break from studying (actually I played snooker for a year) I joined the then Department of Civil Aviation as a trainee Air Traffic Controller, graduating as a fully fledged controller in 1973.
Shortly after graduating I applied to go to Papua New Guinea and landed in Port Moresby in August , 1973. I spent an extremely enjoyable 11 years there and worked in Mt.Hagen, Lae, Madang, Goroka and Port Moresby control towers, played lots of snooker-winning the national championships 5 times-and drank lots of beer.
Another 12 month rest, again playing snooker but this time in the U.K., where I got to meet and hang around with some of the greats of snooker - Alex Higgins, John Spencer, Jimmy White, and I reluctantly returned to Australia to tackle the wonders of RADAR. One year of that proved to be enough and off I headed again...this time to Rockhampton for a few years, where I met my current wife, and finally to Cairns where I stayed until 1995.
Although well settled in Cairns, with a great lifestyle , two young children and a WONDERFUL house my wife became restless and, since I was becoming more and more dis-illusioned with my employer of 25 years, it did not take much prodding for me to agree to yet another move.
This time it was to Bahrain to work for SERCo-IAL. Whilst the work and lifestyle there were great the money wasn't and so, when the opportunity arose to go to Hong Kong it was "on the road again".
Hong Kong was a wonderful experience. I had always wanted to live there for a short period and Kai Tak Airport was legendary in aviation circles. I achieved a controllers dream by checking out on Kai Tak Approach and worked my first solo shift during a taifun.
Unfortunately, once the move away from KaiTak to Chek Lap Kok was made, Hong Kong rapidly lost it's appeal and I was more than happy to leave after 6 years.. It was an interesting time. - I worked at the legendary Kai Tak, saw the "handover" and experienced the opening of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok..
Following an all to brief well earned rest in Oz it was on the move again, this time to an unknown airport in the middle of the desert - Al Ayn International Airport?
I have now been at Al Ayn for 8 years (wow! It's scary how time slides by so quickly) and am officially beyond my time expired date. Luckily I managed to get a dispensation to keep working so will probably be here for a few years yet.
Al Ayn is certainly an interesting place. The lifestyle is very relaxed, the locals are easy to get along with and the weather is great (except for the 5 months of summer).
Workwise? Al Ayn has very few International movements, about 30 pcm, but it has a large military training base and an ever expanding civil flying school, Horizon International Flight Academy, resulting in very heavy traffic during the day.
2011 update - There have been significant changes in Al Ain over the last year or so. there are big plans for expansion at the airport, most of the airspace has been given to Abu Dhabi to control and there has been upheaval in the management. It is not the place it was and for the first time in my career I no longer enjoy going to work. Unfortunately I am in the twilight of my career so have very few options available to me and will just have to "grin and bear it" at least for a while.
Hint: If anybody has a need for a 60 year old air traffic controller with extensive world wide experience please don't hesitate to contact me - I'll even consider driving a bus if the money is good :)
2016: Well, here we are, 5 years later and until recently nothing much changed. Nobody offered me a job (even as a bus driver), my boss and his offsider twice tried unsuccessfully to get me fired but ended up themselves being removed from their positions :) and another company took over the ATC contract in Al Ayn. Again there was hope of a new broom bringing sweeping changes but again we were disappointed.
On the plus side, after avoiding golf for 40 years I was convinced by a couple of colleagues that it is not such a bad game. I became such a convert that I ended up playing almost every day and managed ( with the help of our club professionals) to get my official handicap down to a respectable 9.5 before I left the UAE in April 2016.
In April 2016, on reaching 65 years of age I was forced into retirement where I now languish. My wife and I are building a retirement castle on the island of Koh Samui, in Thailand, and intend to see out the rest of our days here.