Yvonne Sintes, the first ever female air traffic controller visits NATS in Hampshire

Yvonne Sintes, Britain's first ever female air traffic controller visits NATS

Yvonne Sintes, Britain's first ever female air traffic controller visits NATS

Yvonne Sintes, Britain's first ever female air traffic controller visits NATS

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

SHE was a pioneer in aviation overcoming prejudice as the first ever female air traffic controller.

But Yvonnes Sintes saw how much things have moved on since her time on a visit to a Hampshire air traffic control centre.

The 84-year-old dropped in to the NATS control centre in Swanwick to meet staff and share her experiences, including the prejudice she faced being a woman.

Yvnne was a controller at Gatwick Airport between 1960 and 1964, but many of the men she worked alongside found the idea of a woman controller impossible.

Her instructor tried to persuade her to leave the training programme and a French pilot once even refused to land at Gatwick and preferred to divert to another airport rather than take instructions from Yvonne.

Despite this, she was honoured as the best air traffic controller in Europe in 1965 and went on to become the country's first female airline captain.

Air traffic has increased massively since Yvonne was a controller, with NATS managing 2.2 million flights last year.

But today's controllers have the advantage of support from by a wide range of advanced technological tools.

Today NATS can predict a flight's position up to 18 minutes into the future.

Yvonne, who lives in Chichester, said: “I am still passionate about aviation so it's been fantastic to visit NATS today, to meet the current controllers and see how far things have come in 50 years.

“During the 1960s Britain had a reputation for having the best air traffic controllers in the world, so it is good to see that at least hasn't changed.”

Juliet Kennedy, NATS' Director of Operations at Swanwick Centre, said: “It has been an honour to have Yvonne with us today. Her determination to overcome the barriers of a male dominated industry helped pave the way for future generations to build successful careers in aviation.

“Today we employ hundreds of women controllers thanks to Yvonne and pioneers like her.”

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

3:38pm Fri 15 Aug 14

southy says...

So the female's Air controllers and pilots during the WW2 don't count.
So the female's Air controllers and pilots during the WW2 don't count. southy
  • Score: 2

12:05pm Wed 20 Aug 14

ATC Guy says...

She was not the first ever female air traffic controller. She may have been the UK's first but I don't know if that is true either.For example, Margaret Lorenzen Jenkins began as an air traffic control trainee with the CAA
at Forth Worth in 1943. She progressed steadily as an air traffic control specialist moving to El Paso in 1945 and New Orleans in 1947. In 1959 she moved to the Southwest regional office in the Manpower Utilization and Training Section as a GS-12. A promotion to a GS-14 took her to the new Southern Region headquarters in 1961 as a specialist in the Training and Management Group, Operations Branch, where she became the highest ranking woman in the region.

Additionally the military had women controllers in 1941-42. I have a picture of two of them in my office.
She was not the first ever female air traffic controller. She may have been the UK's first but I don't know if that is true either.For example, Margaret Lorenzen Jenkins began as an air traffic control trainee with the CAA at Forth Worth in 1943. She progressed steadily as an air traffic control specialist moving to El Paso in 1945 and New Orleans in 1947. In 1959 she moved to the Southwest regional office in the Manpower Utilization and Training Section as a GS-12. A promotion to a GS-14 took her to the new Southern Region headquarters in 1961 as a specialist in the Training and Management Group, Operations Branch, where she became the highest ranking woman in the region. Additionally the military had women controllers in 1941-42. I have a picture of two of them in my office. ATC Guy
  • Score: 2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree