The role of telecommunications in National Airways Corporation (NAC) flights is detailed.
The film title incorporates the NAC logo with godwit and its line of flight diagonally across the ‘NAC’. Post-credits, a close-up of same logo on white coat pocket. “This man”, the narrator tells us as the camera moves to the face, “is an instrument maker behind the scenes at NAC. His job is important to you because it helps you to fly in complete comfort.” Shot of his hands with tweezers probing unnamed instrument on his desk. Narrator: “Among others you never see is this weather observer with his meteorological balloon. The information he gathers helps all sections of the New Zealand community - including you when you fly.”. White meteorological balloon is released and rises into the clouds. Narrator: “And the more you’ll fly, the more you’ll learn about these people who do the ground work for your comfort.” Luggage is manually loaded into hold of passenger aircraft on tarmac. Narrator: “But, did you know that, wherever you fly, trained eyes and ears track your course?”. Man in headphones seated at bank of machinery. Close-up of his hands typing. Narrator: “And swiftly printed messages send word ahead of your progress .” Vickers Viscount aircraft ZK-BRD - NAC’s first Viscount- on tarmac with propellers turning. Livery is “New Zealand National Airways Corporation” along the fuselage, “NAC” (with diagonal flight line) on tail, and aircraft name, “City Of Wellington”, on the nose. Narrator: “From the moment you are seated in your airliner on the tarmac the captain is in contact; first with the man who directs the starting of the engines. And also with men hundreds of yards away in the airport control tower.” Two seated air traffic controllers working inside the control tower. Fokker F-27-100 Friendship aircraft ZK-BXA moves along the tarmac of Wellington International Airport as it gathers speed, passes the camera, and takes off. As this occurs, the narrator states, “For this is one of the true marvels of modern aviation that, wherever your airliner is - taking off in a long sweep of gathering speed, soon to disappear from the sight and sound of those watching on the ground, or anywhere in New Zealand skies - your NAC flight is on the phone. And the air is full of voices.” Aircraft in flight with phone chatter on the soundtrack. Narrator: “There are voices giving details of the weather ahead, voices requesting information, voices ordering changes in course. Interior plane shot of passengers. Narrator: “How all this is done of course is unknown to most passengers ...”
One woman passenger gives an amusing if implausible explanation of how the pilot can “steer” at night to her companion. The narrator, now seen facing the camera with bookshelves behind him, laughs: “Well, it’s not like that at all really you know ...” He continues on the subject: “National Airways flies the equivalent of five times around the world every week all over New Zealand. So the question of flight control is a very important one and has taken much time and training to achieve. Part of the secret of flight control is contained in radio aids to navigation.” Aircraft flight deck shown. Narrator: “The instruments in the crew cabin of an aircraft enable the captain to know his exact position and speed and direction. The whereabouts and progress of the aircraft are also known on the ground in the air traffic control centre. Because all pilots on scheduled services maintain constant contact by radio telephone with operators who have been trained in a Civil Aviation Administration school - like this one at Mechanics Bay [Waitemata Harbour] in Auckland ...” Three men in white shirts and ties study model of airfield and move plane along runway. Narrator: “CAA is the Government agency which supervises all New Zealand civil flying and these students are learning the rules and procedures by which eventually they will help to guide your airliner from takeoff to touchdown.”
An indicator on a map of New Zealand shows the points “very high-frequency radio stations have been set up. Two of these - one 3500’ up Mt. Egmont and the other at Porirua - enable Wellington control to “talk” to airliners anywhere between Auckland and Kaikoura. And to “see” them there are radar stations like this near Hawkins Hill in Wellington where a huge scanner sweeps the skies every five seconds.” The rotating radar station [predating the replacement radar dome or ‘Radome’] is shown. Station staff working at banks of machinery are shown. Narrator: “And technicians are on duty 24 hours a day and all facilities are duplicated in case of possible mechanical fault ... The scanner is able to pinpoint all aircraft to a range of over 200 miles ... and thus give a radar picture to combine with the voice transmitted by radio.” View from Hawkins Hill over Wellington Harbour entrance. Narrator: “Pictures of aircraft caught by the scanner are beamed by one of two radio reflectors directly downwards on a link to Stout Street Air Traffic Control in Wellington city.” Building pictured. Seated staff in the Communications Room. Staff manually writing information on cards which are displayed in front of them.
The steps leading up to this are shown: Prior to takeoff the pilot prepares a flight plan according to weather information. He submits the plan to Control at his point of departure. A brief coded summary is typed and sent to the destination and all control points over which airliner will pass. Details are copied by pen onto a card. This information is checked as plane proceeds.
The need for prioritising the landing of aircraft arriving in close proximity to each other is explained. View of descent into Wellington. Narrator: “Each flight is kept advised of changing conditions and requirements by Stout St Control.” The airport control tower takes over from Stout St once the aircraft has entered the area of descent. Staff in control tower interior. Onscreen information from radar is studied and the flight is talked down. Airliner landing at Wellington airport seen from control tower and cockpit. Narrator: “An airliner taxies into its embarkation point. In a few moments the passengers will be leaving, but few of them will have given thought to the tremendous organisation that has guided and guarded them through the skies ...
“While their work with ground and air communications has been little known until now, you can remember it best by the simple words that have formed the title to this film ...” Airliner takes off from Wellington runaway and rises into blue.