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  • Q&A - Ian

    Q&A – Ian Hawkins, Airfield Operations

    Heathrow

     

    In the last series of Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport we saw Ian learning to marshal long-haul jets, checking the runways for debris and demonstrating various novel ways to keep birds and aircraft apart. 

    As a card-carrying aviation enthusiast and birdwatcher, it must be the ideal job for the former health and safety officer from the West Midlands. 

    Ian spent 23 years working in aviation, before changing jobs. But he missed the excitement of airport life and took his job at Heathrow in 2017.

    We caught up with ‘Airside Ian’, real name Ian Hawkins from Airside Operations, famed for his moustache amongst fans, to hear all about what it was like to be part of the newest series, series six.

     
    We have seen you star on HBBA before, what do you like most about being part of the series?

    I enjoy sharing what I do in my role, my passion and enthusiasm for aircraft, birds and Heathrow, - come on, who would not want to work with those three!

    Do fans of the series recognise you in the airport?

    Yes, some do, I have had people say to me, “You’re the chap off the TV, I recognise the moustache. I can tell my wife now, I have been keeping an eye out for you.”

    Do your friends and family watch you in every series?

    Yes, they will also tell me if they have seen me in a re-run.

    What did you enjoy most about being part of HBBA this time?

    I enjoy sharing what I see, find and enjoy at Heathrow with the film crew and viewers. My highlight this time would have been to see my daughter on the series with me, as she was due to spend a day with me for a school project, however due to the pandemic this wasn’t possible.  

    What has been a particularly memorable moment for you over the last year while working at Heathrow? 

    Spotting and identifying a Hobby (type of falcon), they very rarely appear at the airfield and I had never seen one before. A training day marshalling an R22 helicopter was very memorable, particularly having a ride to see the pilot’s point of view. Saying goodbye to my mentor Steve, as a result of the pandemic. I will miss his wit, knowledge and support.

    Since the series was filmed, the global pandemic started, did you work during the peak lockdown period and if so, what was it like and how did your role change?

    I did work during lockdown, it felt really eerie to see such a quiet taxi way - so strange and odd for Heathrow. My role didn’t change apart from the amount of runway bird runs and inspections actually increased in-between aircraft movements, as the runway was so quiet.

    Travel corridors have recently been introduced with some countries, where are you most looking forward to travelling to? 

    Cornwall then Florida

    Where is your favourite destination to fly to from Heathrow?

    The USA

    Will you be volunteering again for more series in the future?

    If viewers would like to see me again, then I am more than happy to.