Series exploring the development of Britain's airports. From Nimbys to climate protesters, hijackers to terrorists: how the airport has come under attack.
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It's hard to imagine life without the airport.
For the last century, it has shown us the future and helped make us modern.
There's no question that airports of the 20th century were symbols
of modernity, they were one of the most glamorous, exciting buildings you can think of.
Today the airport is open to everyone,
but it has turned out to be a far more complex place
than we could have predicted.
The new conflict is between our desire to enjoy increasing affluence
and the realisation that this desire may lead us to catastrophe.
We were on the peripheries of society, we were
putting forward what was going on but nobody was listening to us.
Now the only issue is - can you make it through the barrier?
If you make it through the barrier, you're a good citizen, "bye, shit",
and if you don't make it through the barrier you're an evil terrorist who should be disappeared.
The airport still allows us freedom and adventure but at a price,
perhaps a far greater price than we could ever have imagined.
Over half a million travellers pass through Britain's airports every day.
And each year, most of us will visit the airport.
The huge change that's come in the last 40 years
is that flying's become a mass activity, everyone almost
has flown and very large numbers of people have flown long distances
across the world, and this means that airports
are part of everyday experience in a way they never were.
We're flying to Malaga to visit our daughter.
I am heading to Accra, Ghana.
I'm going to Knock today, I'm flying home from college for a couple of weeks for Easter.
In the early days of the airport, flying was the preserve
of the super-rich - and there weren't too many of them.
In the '60s, costs came down and British holidaymakers flocked to the airport.
But things really took off in 1970 when a new aircraft headed for
Heathrow, one that would put the 100-seater jet in the shade.
With room for four times as many passengers, the Jumbo would revolutionise the airport.
Seeing it on the horizon coming in,
you don't really get the idea of the size of it, but as it gets nearer
and it kind of fills the whole of your eyesight, you realise that it was a massive aircraft.
We went out to have a look at this aircraft
and we just could not believe it, we were gobsmacked, we really were.
I stood underneath the wheel base and I said
that interior is bigger than my lounge, and it was.
Captain Des Tranter and his crew brought the first Jumbo from the States
in just over six and a half hours.
It was there, it was reality out at Heathrow and it changed the way that we travel
and the cost of travel. I think when it landed we realised it was going to revolutionise air travel.
It wasn't only in the passenger side, we had to carry a lot of cargo, a lot of mail,
but it made a huge difference, and we had to fill those aeroplanes for them to carry on flying.
With the arrival of such a huge aircraft, the airport needed to be bigger too,
but Heathrow was at full stretch - and it looked like it was struggling to cope.
London faces erosion of its position as the hub of international air transport.
Heathrow Airport has room to expand passenger facilities, but it's got no more room for runways.
And yet the important thing is that no matter what you do here or what improvements you make,
London Airport will be saturated in how many years?
By 1974 we'll be full up.
This was an era of great affluence and fast economic growth,
demand for flying was growing very rapidly indeed.
The government had got itself in a bit of a fix because Heathrow was limited basically to two runways
and Gatwick, as the second airport, had been limited by a commitment that still stands to this day
to an only one runway airport,
and so there was a very urgent need to make long-term provision.
This was going to be a challenge. Heathrow had been around for over
20 years and by the Jet Age, everyone knew what it was like to live next to it.
Moving day for Mr and Mrs Fred Turner.
Their house became untenable when a runway was extended at London Airport.
They had to sell up at a loss and get out.
I suppose I've been on about
PLANE ENGINE DROWNS SPEECH
It's quite clear that the jet is the defining sound of the last 40 years of the 20th century.
Before the aeroplane's invention, the only things that could be heard
in the sky were thunder or birdsong,
here now there was a new sound in the sky.
I think as the century has progressed the sound of aircraft has intensified
and also has intensified our sense of what it is to be modern.
We've lived here 75 years, all my life.
I'm 72 years, yeah. It's a good area, this place here is a good area.
It's got a good bus service now.
You know, we're not overlooked, we've got nice houses here.
We've got a nice gardens, nice big back garden, nice front garden,
three or four cars in the front garden with a lawn.
Where would you get that today?
To begin with, the villages around Heathrow were relatively undisturbed by the airport next door.
New engine power,
drawing its smooth, steady strength from both turbines and propellers.
Turbo prop, remember the turbo prop.
Yeah. They were usually all quiet except till the jets started coming.
More noise from the jets, obviously.
Just ear-shattering, really, and, you know, trembling sound
against your stomach you got with them.
Do you remember that bloke from Reading where the bloke do the ceilings, artexed the ceiling?
And he was in here and Concorde went off.
He come out, "What the bloody hell was that?"
Frightened him to death.
Noise was becoming a big issue, but in the late '60s, with more frequent and bigger
aircraft landing at Heathrow, there was no doubt that a new airport was in the national interest.
And to do its credit to the government of that day,
the Harold Wilson Labour Government took the very long-term view,
and appointed the Roskill Commission
with the aim of doing the most exhaustive impartial study ever
of the need for and the location of a third London airport.
Good evening. In the coming age of jumbo jets
and supersonic speed, how and where will we
make room for new airports in England's green and pleasant land?
Are we to be masters of our technology or fugitives from it?
The Roskill Commission immediately started looking around London for potential airport sites.
Its first task - to produce a shortlist.
When Roskill first started his work, frankly, he was below the horizon.
We knew, we'd read the Daily Telegraph and there
were stories about him looking for a site in Britain. No-one dreamed it would ever come here.
The Roskill Commission, which makes the final recommendation to the government on this point
has now come up with its shortlist of four sites chosen on the grounds of their cost,
their general suitability as an airport and how they fit in with planning considerations.
The four sites chosen were Thurleigh and Nuthampstead, both north of London, Foulness
on the Essex coast, and Cublington, a small village in Buckinghamshire.
In each village, the very idea of an airport was hotly debated.
For some it meant the destruction of the countryside, for others the creation of jobs.
I would say 90% of the people that have come in my shop are for the airport.
-I would truly say...
I don't agree at all. I refute that remark completely,
because the things against it are much, much greater.
This will be a place for old people, there'll be no youngsters.
Even now the youngsters have to go out to get homes.
What's wrong with that? People have always had to go out of villages to work.
Well, why should they?
They go and live near where the work is if they want to leave their work and the noise.
Roskill knew that choosing between the four sites
was going to be tricky, but he had a secret weapon up his sleeve, one that would ensure a fair decision.
He was going to use the cold hard logic of a modern method of decision making, cost-benefit analysis.
An approach so rational, he thought, no-one could argue with it.
It didn't take into account
questions of the quality of life, really.
We are here, we want it, we're for it.
In an uproar in this country unsurpassed in the political history
of the place where we live.
The campaign to prevent the airport being built at Cublington was started by a young barrister.
I suppose I have to say that I'm the original NIMBY, but I'm afraid it's a matter of no concern,
and I for one was not going to sit down and wave my legs in the air and say "this is a good idea".
If the new airport comes here it wouldn't be anything like
this strip which the countryside has been able to assimilate.
The new airport will occupy a space of five miles by two-and-a-half, and many a devoted life plan
seen in terms not of years but of generations will be suddenly meaningless.
The proposed airport was going to be over twice the size of Heathrow with four runways.
The villages that were going would have been Stewkley,
Winslow and Cublington.
I can't believe that Drayton Parslow would have been still there.
Dunton, Whitchurch and Drayton Parslow,
would have been absolutely intolerable to remain in.
The local MP decided to throw his considerable weight behind the campaign.
Captain Robert Maxwell, Military Cross, was the Member of Parliament
for this constituency which was then Buckingham.
He began to think that he was in danger
of losing the seat, and I was then sent for by him.
He said to me, "Who is the chairman of your organisation?"
So I said, "Well, I am, sir."
"Well," he said, "what you really need is somebody of national prestige."
I looked as though I didn't know what the answer was going to be
and he said, "I have enough prestige to sink a battleship."
In a choice between people and money, the Roskill Commission will choose money.
We say people matter more than money!
And he then said, "I'll tell you now, Fennell, that if you don't accept my invitation
"I shall destroy your organisation and you will be out of a job."
This was the first time that I'd been involved in anything political,
let alone at this particular level.
Fennell's campaign committee threatened to resign if Maxwell took over.
So he called the MP's office to reject his offer.
Quaking in my boots, I rang up the constituency agent and I said, "Well, it's about the airport."
"Oh," he said, "we've just passed a resolution in favour of that."
So I said, "in favour of it?" "Yes," he said, "in favour."
I said, "I thought Captain Maxwell wanted to be against it."
He said, "I don't know about that, there must be a mistake."
Unable to rely on their own MP for support,
the campaign needed a new champion, someone who wanted
to protect England's green and pleasant land as much as they did.
Thank you very much indeed for coming.
I've got hours of stuff to go on with...
We managed to persuade John Betjeman to come out
and he had a very good lunch
and said to me as an aside, "do you think it'll matter if I'm a bit squiffy?"
But he produced a very good lecture.
The roads are all widened,
the lanes are all straight, so that rising executives won't have to wait.
For who would use a footpath to Quainton or Brill, when a jet can convey him as far as Brazil?
For two years the Commission crunched the numbers to decide which
of the four sites would be best.
Then just before Christmas in 1970, it gave its verdict.
The airport should be built at Cublington. The campaign had failed.
There was a surge of, well, disbelief,
and I think people did then get really upset.
I was absolutely furious.
For an unknown fringe element it was time for something more direct than
poetry to ensure the government did not accept Roskill's recommendation.
It was a Saturday morning, six o'clock in the morning, I was in bed, fast asleep.
Telephone rang, a very gruff voice said in a broad Buckinghamshire accent, "Look in your letterbox.
"Everyone in the area's got one."
And the phone went dead.
Behind my letterbox was a pamphlet with full details of how to make a petrol bomb.
We found pieces of paper had been pinned onto telegraph poles and public notice boards and so on
which actually gave the blueprint for making Molotov cocktails.
This was entirely illegal, but we actually made one to see if it worked.
And it did, we tested one out up on what used to be the old airfield
in a derelict building!
We also tried out one or two other devices, some of them were very ingenious, they wouldn't be any use
to modern terrorists, they were very simple and primitive, but they would have worked.
I'd phoned friends who confirmed they'd had these
things put through their letterbox and we sent off a story.
The Cublington campaign now had everyone's attention, so the villagers pushed on,
but with publicity stunts that were more traditional.
All sorts of things, going around bumper to bumper in an enormous
column around what would have been the perimeter of the airport site.
The second event we organised was a large rally.
12,000 people turned up to this.
The day of the inland airport has gone.
For all the fun and games, the campaign
wanted to make just one point, the logic of cost-benefit analysis might
conclude that you should build a massive airport in Buckinghamshire, but that didn't make it right.
So it's now blasphemy for a commission of learned economists, however well-intentioned,
to try to add up the benefits of living in Stewkley
and weigh them against the price of an air ticket to New York.
They came to be widely criticised, even pilloried, for trying
to value a Norman church by putting the insurance value on it.
This was seen, in the famous words of a critic,
Professor Peter Self, as "nonsense on stilts."
My father, Peter Self, was Professor of Public Administration at the London School of Economics.
His basic feeling was that the cost benefit analysis
was a fundamentally flawed way
of dealing with large scale projects like this.
Dad said the loss of quality of life that was represented
by the airport could not be assigned a simple integer
I think the whole Wilsonian white heat of technology
was more about money than it was about anything else.
The Cublington campaign weren't against a new airport.
In fact they believed that there was a location on Roskill's short-list that would be ideal.
The obvious answer was to have a coastal site, that was Foulness.
That became the centre of our activities towards the final chapter of the campaign.
Foulness was an expanse of tidal marshland at the mouth of the Thames,
and it was the only coastal site on Roskill's short-list.
Although fewer people lived there it had been rejected because building an airport on reclaimed land cost more.
But Foulness offered the nation the possibility of the perfect airport for the future.
If you had to summarise the difference in planning terms
between Foulness on the one hand and Cublington on the other,
how would you put it?
Er, I would put it that the...Foulness site
can physically accommodate the urbanisation that is required,
that is...accepted, I think, by everyone.
I thought then, as I think now,
that the best place to put an airport, other things being equal,
which they sometimes aren't, is a seaside location
or a riverside location,
that is where the flights can approach and take off over water.
Amazingly the Government agreed. They rejected Roskill's recommendation
and decided to spend extra money on building runways over the sea.
Foulness would be the site for London's brand new international airport,
and Cublington was spared.
When we marched down the village in the torch-light procession,
I bet I cried because I cry at anything.
I think the fight was that people mattered.
That's was the overriding thing, that people are more valuable than money.
Planning immediately started on Britain's largest ever civil engineering project.
This was to be Europe's most modern airport.
The "foul" in Foulness referred to birds, but, nonetheless,
the name wasn't felt to be attractive enough for international travellers.
So that was the first thing to go.
'At the headquarters of the hydraulics research station is a two-acre model of Maplin Sands,
'site of the projected third London Airport.
'Starting small at the opening in 1980 or '81,
'the airport will build up to handle 20 million passengers a year.'
The new international airport couldn't come soon enough,
because all the existing ones were busier than ever.
'Within a few years, the volume of charter air traffic in Europe will have over taken schedule traffic,
'and some of these obscure airlines may become just as familiar as BEA or KLM.'
It was boom time for the British airport.
More people travelled in 1973 than at any time in the history of aviation and the travel industry.
That build up that had been taking place over the previous five years came to a head in 1973.
Regional airports came into their own.
Their locations made them convenient for eager holidaymakers, and cheap landing fees
attracted major tour operators like Thompsons, Courtline and Clarkson's.
The most important airport initially, of course, was Luton.
One of the great advantages that Clarkson's had was that it was able to use an air terminal
in the Finchley Road. Customers were able to get on a coach, they'd go straight to Luton Airport,
so it managed to ensure that an airport like Luton was suddenly put to the forefront.
In terms of passenger numbers there'd never been such growth,
but underneath was an underlying problem of profitability.
'And this year more than ever Britain's tour operators desperately need you to come,
'because financially this could be the most crucial season since the air charter holiday business began.'
Clarkson's motto was we won't be beaten on price, we were going
to be cheaper than anybody else, we were going to make up for low prices
by getting volume, by filling our aircraft completely, and they tried to fill them to unrealistic levels.
What finally hit them was trying to do that at a time
of rising fuel prices after the Arab-Israeli war.
And it was very clear to tour operators that 1974 was not going to be a weak year.
It was going to be a disastrous year, and it was clear that there would be a number of casualties.
One major casualty of the economic crisis
was the planned new international airport at Maplin Sands.
At £800 million to construct,
we simply could not afford it.
The dream of an airport for the future was over.
'The Government cancelled Maplin
'at a point of really serious economic and political crisis.'
I can only give you one gallon, sir.
That'll get you to your nearest garage.
There was strike after strike, power supplies failed,
we were on a three-day week with power cuts nationally for four hours at a time,
people sitting in darkness. There was just no money to pay for anything.
The great post-war boom had come to an end.
I was working at Clarkson's, I went home
and my wife came into the kitchen and told me the news
that Clarkson's and Courtline had gone bust.
When Clarkson's went bust, the travel world exploded.
There was chaos. There were people stranded in Spain,
tens of thousands of people
that wanted to get home, had no idea and no-one to turn to
to get them home.
We've been sitting here for hours on end waiting.
In Britain, the airport, once a doorway beckoning us to exotic locations, was turning people away.
We paid a £190 for two of us, so what chance do you stand of getting any back? None.
-How do you feel about going on another package holiday?
-Oh, no, thanks!
Travel is really just all about dreams.
Suddenly you weren't buying a dream, you were buying a big risk
that you could be left stranded either having
to find your own way back from somewhere in Spain or just losing your holiday, losing your money.
I think that hurt an awful lot of people.
In 1974 for the first time in the airport's history, the unthinkable happened.
Passenger numbers fell...
by millions, and there were darker days to come.
On the 19th of May, an IRA car bomb exploded at Heathrow.
The bomb went off at just about twenty minutes past eleven
this morning and the explosion was absolutely enormous.
The explosion came from behind and I was thrown on the floor and my colleague was
thrown across the other side, and the next thing, well, there was stuff flying all over the place.
'Just drove it straight into the front and it exploded
'two guys were in it.'
A deadly game of cat and mouse was being played out at the airport over the last 40 years.
As security has closed one loophole, terrorists have sought another.
In 1970, thereabouts, there was no security of any kind at any airport that I can recall.
People just arrived, walked out to the plane,
sometimes if it was a friend of a friend who worked at the airport
and knew somebody, they would come on the plane and we, on
the odd occasion I'd have to say, excuse me, would you mind getting off, we're ready to go here please.
Which was a far cry from what happens today, as you can imagine.
The security was completely nil.
But by the early '70s,
security measures began appearing at airports across the country.
Passengers and staff entering the airport are stopped
by police roadblocks and soldiers stand guard with guns at the ready.
Almost as if terrorism and antiterrorist precautions had
become an everyday part of the human condition.
Terrorism isn't about the physical carnage,
it's not about the mental and physical trauma,
it's about what it symbolises, it's about a media event.
And so it's not surprising, then, that airports should be a target for something like terrorism because
it's a way to get noticed, it's a way to get on the front pages.
From its earliest days the airport has been used as a stage by
politicians wanting to address the world.
So on the 6th September 1970, the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine created their own airport to get their message out.
No breakfast, rumbling stomach, smoking too much,
bumping away towards what somebody says
is where we might find the aeroplanes.
A couple of American nets, us in the Beeb, and we bumped over one more hill and there's a great Wadi
laid out in front of us, and right in the centre of it,
bright in the sunshine are these two aircraft.
The next day the world woke to the news that two transatlantic
jets had been hijacked and forced to land in Jordan.
The hijackers were calling the airfield in the middle of the desert Revolution Airport.
50 miles north-west of Oman on the sun baked salt flats, the two airliners hijacked by the PLFP.
The two planes came in in the dusk last night with
flares and kerosene lights put there by the PFLP to guide the pilots in.
I think they realised that the whole life blood, the pulse of a sophisticated
society was in its ability to travel and therefore the symbol of that
wealth and power and ability to move, and internationalism was an airport.
All women and children who should have been released were released.
Immediately after the hijackings Heathrow stepped up security,
but the rest of the airport network weren't so quick off the mark.
And three days later in Bahrain, two more hijackers managed to board a BOAC flight.
The level of security on any given flight is only as good as
the security provided at the point of origin of each of the passengers on board that aircraft.
The plane had been heading for Heathrow, but now it too was bound for Revolution Airport.
'I said to the passenger, would you like some coffee?
'Yes, please, black.'
I served the coffee, I offered them sugar and as I did so,
I looked to see this barrel of a gun in my face. "Get back", he said.
I said who are you? And he said, "I am with the Palestinian Liberation Airways", he said.
And he sort of shoved the trolley almost to one side
and I'm, all I could think of to say was, you know, stop, be careful
please, you could, I'm thinking this guy could knock the coffee pot over and scald himself.
And here he is running around the cabin with a gun in his hand.
And eventually we were then informed we were going to be taken
to the desert, to Jordan, and land there, which we did.
It was the first ever hijacking of a British aeroplane.
'The BOAC arrived which was a shock for everybody, it was a shock for us.'
It was absolutely stunning in terms of the publicity that this group attracted around it.
Everybody on board quite reasonably OK and standing up to stay well.
Can you give us your name first?
Nigel, I'm British and I've come to Bahrain, and it's all
right in there, it's just hot.
The hijackers were demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners in return for the 300 hostages.
And the negotiations weren't going well.
Because of the tension in the capital there's a considerable worry that the already harassed
and nervous guerrillas who are holding the planes will in fact stick to their threats and blow
them up with the passengers on board if the European governments do not meet with their demands.
Eventually the hijackers released all of the hostages over a tense three week period.
-What's your name?
-Susan, how did you get on on board?
-It's all right.
'But the hijackers were still determined to make headlines.'
There was silence and it wasn't, you know, what seemed like a long while but in actual fact was only
most probably a matter of seconds before this enormous bang followed by this tidal wave of hot, hot
air which almost knocked you off your feet, and this of course came after the actual explosion.
We're into a completely different scene and we are then into the world where airline passengers are
beginning to have to face the fact that their lives may depend on the
level of security at the airport check-in desks, and this has made flying completely different.
This has, this has changed the whole world.
No hostages were killed, but the explosion at Revolution Airport reverberated around the world.
'The events at Revolution Airport essentially were a catalyst'
to the aviation security that we have today.
Everything that has happened in aviation security was born at that point.
American airports led the way, introducing metal detectors and x-ray machines.
This is one of the obvious electronic devices used in the screening process.
It's designed to detect first metal, when the passenger activated something he was frisked.
After a thorough search, a monkey wrench was found and he was allowed to board the plane.
These metal detectors and x-ray machines proved to be an effective
deterrent, so they were quickly introduced to British airports.
Ex-police officers examined passengers and their luggage electronically.
It might mean slower boarding but no-one argues with extra safeguards against sabotage and hijacking.
For me it's normally OK going through the metal detectors,
I must have a nice friendly face,
but my wife gets pulled over almost every time.
You start feeling a bit suspicious like you've done something wrong,
and it's a bit, it's just, it's not, you know, it's not great.
Over three months in 1972, searches of BOAC passengers
disclosed ten shotguns, 332 rounds of ammunition,
245 knives, 67 swords, six rifles,
five crossbows and 72 toy guns.
I'm going to take them away from you for a little while,
then when you get back, then when you get to wherever you're going, right, then you get them back.
-Know what I mean now? You can't have them...
You can't have them on the plane. You're not, you can have them, you can have them when we get off.
'The best job I ever had at the airport was frisking people,'
and the training was perfunctory, I think, to say the very least.
We were sat in the classroom for a couple of days where somebody
without much enthusiasm said, "Look, if you see something like this" --
and produced a Tupperware box with a few wires coming out of it --
"then it's probably suspicious so you ought to tell somebody about it."
X-ray machines had been introduced to help search baggage, but in the early days they were very basic.
The fact that x-rays themselves were cosmetic
was of course known within the industry but not to the general
public, and not necessarily to the terrorist.
There was always a threat their weapons would be identified.
Er, and it did have a remarkable effect,
the number of hijackings did go down, no question of that whatsoever.
However, we had to understand that if you use technological methods
to prevent hijacking and you lowered that threat then the terrorists
would switch somewhere else and they'd look for a different approach,
and eventually they looked towards the bomb.
'One evening the El Al flight was going through controls.'
Oh, after a few minutes, there was a bit of a furore,
and then this girl was escorted out in floods of tears.
When the saboteurs began to show their head, these were people who
wanted to bomb aircraft but not to be on board at the time.
And one example of that is Anne Murphy.
Anne Marie Murphy was a young Irish woman working as a chambermaid in London.
Pregnant by her Jordanian boyfriend, she thought she was flying to Israel to meet her future in-laws.
Before the discovery of the bomb at Heathrow, presumably everything was all going very well, was it?
Yes, it was, I was very happy that week.
Yeah, and we came back and then,
you know, for this to happen was absolutely dreadful.
'She had been arrested at the gate because she was carrying this bomb in the bottom of her'
piece of hand luggage, and the poor girl knew nothing about it, absolutely nothing about it.
In the holdall, they found nearly ten pounds of plastic explosives,
enough to blow the flight out of the sky.
Anne Marie's boyfriend was trying to exploit a weakness in airport security.
He had packed a bomb in her hand luggage believing
that the x-ray machine wouldn't detect it, and it didn't.
She walked straight through.
But the airline, alert to a threat, hand searched her bag at the gate.
This was, was a shattering, it was, I couldn't believe it, it was really terrible.
Anybody could do anything like that to another human being, that's terrible.
The incident was to leave its mark on the security process.
The result of the inquiry of poor Anne Marie was that check-in were then told that they had to ask
everybody the question did anyone else touch your baggage,
are you carrying anything for anyone else?
-Did anyone interfere with your bag at all?
I just need a T-shirt saying,'Yes, I pack my bags myself sometimes.'
It's just a stupid question isn't it, obviously you've packed,
today my boyfriend's packed for me, but...
yeah, it's quite, quite frustrating.
In 1988, terrorists found another way to get a bomb on board a plane.
'Baggage reconciliation is sometimes called passenger and baggage matching.'
You have a passenger, you make sure that his bags are related to that
passenger and that no other bags get on board the aircraft.
'We were out for maybe about an hour
'and about to start the Atlantic crossing'
and the captain said to me, we're going to do a little circle around
here because we've just had word that the Pan Am behind us
has sort of vanished off the radar.
'There are growing fears that sabotage did bring the Pan Am
'jumbo jet crashing into the Scottish town of Lockerbie last night.'
The bombers had managed to get a bag onto Pan Am 103 to New York without getting on the plane themselves.
Pan American who were charged with reconciling passengers and baggage
to identify unaccompanied bags had decided quite deliberately
for financial reasons to abandon that procedure in Frankfurt,
and the bomb got on board.
The international regulations that insisted airlines reconciled their baggage did not work.
Something else was needed.
To counter the threat, the authorities turned to an unlikely place for inspiration.
We looked at supermarkets.
Now, in supermarkets they'd introduced the barcode for all sorts of reasons,
and we thought, well, can we not adapt this technology
to an automated system of passenger and baggage matching?
You see the results today, every time a passenger gets on board an aeroplane
a barcode is being used, it's on his baggage tag,
it's on his flight coupon and it's on his boarding card.
So that on board an aircraft should be today only those bags
which have gone through this technological screening.
So much of security in our airports is actually hidden behind the scenes, so, for example,
when you hand over your bag and it disappears off on a conveyor belt what you don't know is that bag's
going through a whole screening process multiple layers of screening and some automated, some manual.
It's basically a road map of the baggage system.
All these islands that you can see at the top there, those are the check-in desks that the passenger
goes to, the baggage then travels on these conveyors where we inject onto a loop which circles x-ray machines,
if those x-ray machines accept the baggage, they travel down into what we call baggage sortation.
Pink means that they're on their way to another level of screening, which is another set
of more complex x-ray machines which have a lot better threat detection.
Terrorist attacks give us a moment to pause, but it doesn't
actually stop us from, from getting on a plane for any length of time.
We see these incidents, they do drift from memory over time
and gradually we become more relaxed about flying again.
Heightened security was a price we were prepared to pay for the freedom to fly.
I love going through security. I submit to them because
that's their job, they need to make sure that the passenger is clean.
Security's good, I mean, they're doing it for the benefit of us,
for our safety, so whatever they want we're quite, you know, you're quite happy to go along with it.
I think airports present us with this irony that it's about freedom,
it's about freedom to move,
yet to move freely we have to give up certain parts of ourselves.
We have to give up, in a sense, certain rights, about us that we hold, and so there's that,
that sort of give and take of, well, what do I give away in order to move the way I want to move?
The threat of terrorism changed the geography of the airport.
Corridors and checkpoints made it easier to control and monitor passengers.
In the end nothing is ever going to be totally secure, and in that sense
you could say that that is the eventual absolute capitulation
if the airport becomes the windowless, underground, atomic bunker.
A passionate aviator himself, Norman Foster was convinced
the airport could return to the excitement and freedom of the past.
When in the mid-Eighties, the government gave the go-ahead for a complete overhaul of a small regional
airport called Stansted, Foster was given the job.
You know, how do you avoid the experience of the airport being
in a way the equivalent of going to the dentist?
I describe it how you create an analogue experience in a, in a digital world.
So really you want the airport to be a friendly experience.
Norman Foster created a new model for what an airport might be.
He tried to go back to the simple idea of a big box which
you came in at one end, you could see the aircraft on the other side and you simply walked through it.
That was the idea.
It was absolutely superb because it was quite a new idea in airport design.
The roof was going to be simply like an umbrella or a sunshade and it's a
very handsome roof indeed, and the walls were basically
walls of glass that enabled you to see what was going on around you,
the aircraft taking off and landing.
So the idea was that you would come into the airport
and be aware of why you'd come there in the first place,
that you were going to fly.
Foster's Stansted was designed to be a glamorous international hub,
but things didn't turn out quite as planned.
In its early days, Stansted's new terminal was not a huge success,
they were desperate to attract traffic,
it was meant to be mainstream airlines and it was the budget airlines that moved there
at first, and it's become fuller and fuller and fuller, in a way choked by its own success.
Within months of opening, Ryanair moved in.
The stage was set for a revolution in air travel, and Stansted,
whatever its original aspirations, took full advantage of it.
Low cost airlines has without a doubt been the single-most important
influence on the travel industry in the course of the last ten years.
Low fares airlines have certainly put certain airports on the map --
who would have thought a few years ago that Stansted would now become
the third most important airport in Britain?
All those wonderful facilities, being used for the sort of people who when it was first built
simply were not regarded as potential travellers.
I think it's marvellous the way that this palace has been opened up to the people.
And last year, over 23 million of us flew into or out of Stansted.
Today almost half the UK's flights are taken on no frills airlines.
The airport never stands still, the airport is never satisfied with
what it has, it always needs more space, longer runways, more runways,
more terminals, more terminal area because airports are only about
masses, numbers, through-flow.
The airport is a factory to create flow and process.
The development of Stansted had taken 11 years and the
longest planning enquiry to date to go from the drawing board to opening.
Britain's airports had always met some local opposition,
but in the late '90s, new voices joined the NIMBYS.
I'm one of the tunnellers and I'm, my name is Disco Dave. Hello.
We were highlighting the global warming situation which
wasn't raised at all by the media, so we were on the peripheries of
society really, we were, we were putting forward what was going on
but nobody was listening to us.
"What are you, you're just a bunch of smelly hippies, you're not really, well, what are you doing?"
-Never seen people living up trees and things and never seen anybody like that, had we really?
So I think it was curiosity that got the better of us
and we went and had a look.
Actually, they were really nice people, you know, people couldn't understand why we were
friendly with them or talked to them, but a good 50% of them
were really nice and they were genuine in what they were doing.
In 1997, Manchester Airport wanted to build a new runway to increase capacity.
But within weeks of starting work, protesters were occupying the trees that needed to be cut down,
and they started digging tunnels under the proposed path of the new runway.
Gaynor and Sylvia had come round almost on a daily basis to certain camps.
They're the people who are bringing you supplies from the outside
without any reward, whatever, they're the unsung heroes really,
because we were getting all the glory, you know, tunnel team and the tree house people.
I think I'd rather go up a tree than down a tunnel.
-I don't think you'd get me down a tunnel.
Well, I wouldn't be able to get down from the tree and I get claustrophobic.
We had a tunnel called the tight and nasty, basically.
It was a tight and nasty design because it was very small,
and it was basically, you had to go in it on your belly.
And it goes down.
This isn't the best place for a claustrophobic.
And we had something called a squeeze hole which was even tighter, you'd have to sort of,
like you were diving really, you'd put your head down six feet of very, very tight space.
It comes, go on, come on.
There's a specific wriggle that you can do that,
that really works well, but I am quite good at.
The tunnels led to a bunker where the protesters lived and slept.
They were a bit bizarre, some of them.
I think the only person we had heard about was Swampy.
Because he had a name and we'd heard about him from other protests.
-He was there, he came and dug himself in I think for a little while.
Swampy, known to his mum as Danny Hooper, gained celebrity status
after evading eviction for a week in a protest tunnel in Devon.
Swampy mania was gripping the country.
Like there was a Diana mania, there was a Swampy mania.
People would come from Liverpool and sit 20 feet away just to look at him
with their kids and say, well, there's Swampy.
Of course, we go into different places because there's so many
places that are being trashed, you know, but that's not a rent a mob,
that's a care for your planet, surely?
People ask what was it like?
I say, well, imagine Pirates of The Caribbean
but a landlubber sort of version.
We were, consumed vast quantities of alcohol, the amount of dope was, oh,
was massive, but then, then again we looked at it, why not?
We were going to go down this tunnel, there's a sort of a chance
there that you're not gonna come out so you think, to hell with it.
I think that the protesters against the Manchester runway extension had every right
to feel that they were romantics and that they were, you know, living this outlaw life,
and they were outlaws from the established law, the kind of
law of modernism, if you like, the law of globalisation at that point.
You know, the very fact that they tunnelled,
the very fact that they were involved in their own kind of
civil engineering project which literally subverted what the modernists
and the globalising ideologues were trying to do was very important.
The authorities called in the bailiffs to evict the protesters.
I told you, mate, you...
-Hey, don't you push into me.
-No, no, I wasn't.
They quickly removed the tree dwellers,
but the tunnellers had to be dug out, and a week later some were still under ground.
I was the last one in that tunnel
and the tunnel was basically collapsing at that point.
They were digging away but because of the erosion due to the,
the water, basically, the tunnel was falling in.
They're getting here today, definitely.
He was down there the longest and just as it happened,
he came out of the tunnel and within hours the tunnel actually collapsed.
That's how close he got, which I think frightened him at the time.
Construction work continued and Manchester Airport's second runway eventually opened in early 2001.
I saw the planes taking off in a different direction, coming over our house,
and I honestly can say I had tears in my eyes, really, it, I felt sick.
Environmental protest had not stopped the airport, but later that year
global events brought the entire network to its knees.
I'm in the greenhouse at home trying to get the greenfly off the tomatoes.
I came out of the cinema, walked down the street and saw a crowd outside a television shop.
And there's a shout from the kitchen, my wife, come in,
a plane has hit a tower in New York.
I was stunned, stunned.
I immediately went into denial, I simply couldn't assimilate what was happening.
I now realise I simply couldn't see it.
The skyscraper and the aeroplane coming together at that, that moment in time, these two sort of symbols
of the 20th and the 21st century, these things that sort of promised so much.
For me, it was about how they cancelled each other out, they
became nothingness, and for me that, that was the most poignant thing.
The effect on the airport was immediate.
Thousands of cancelled and diverted flights threw the system into turmoil.
It was the start of a massive increase in security
that has now reached levels unthinkable just a decade ago.
You're taking your hand luggage through, but you've also got to
hand down your passports, now you've also got to put all your perfumes, like, in a little bag.
So you find you need three hands at the minute.
I'm not quite sure whether we'll ever return to,
if you like, the good old days where you just walked through ever again.
But then again that's, you know, people just come to accept that.
We feel the state's presence because we are literally touched by it, we're literally,
we're, we're patted down, we're asked to take off our shoes and
we're asked to do things like that which we, we can find humiliating.
And we're then confronted with the reality that
we are being secured for a purpose, the purpose of preventing terrorism.
One of the principles of aviation security is the sterile lounge concept, the idea being that once
you pass through security screening you're in an area which is pure, which is clean.
Very safe, probably the safest place you can be in the world.
We've always had to prove our identity to pass through the airport,
but passports alone may no longer be enough.
Facial recognition software can match a face to the photo in a passport.
And some airports have now introduced iris scanning technology.
You could say that airports give us an idea of what the future would look like,
they emit this sort of, sort of science fiction fantasy
in some ways in, in terms of the sorts of things we see,
biometric technologies, finger print readers, iris recognition scanners,
first in airports and we now see them in, in schools, we now see them on our laptops.
So there's the sense that airports seem to shed light onto what's going to happen.
You can often see whether people accept the modern world or not
by kind of asking them how they feel about airports.
Many people are quite offended by them and they see them
as a symbol of everything that's wrong with the modern age.
People who feel more hopeful about technology and about the future
tend to celebrate airports.
So it's a Litmus test to how people are feeling about the direction of humanity.
Airports makes me feel wonderful, especially I haven't been home for the past six years.
I look positively at an airport cos I think of going home maybe for the weekend
or going on holidays or it's something positive, so, yeah, I like coming to the airport.
I feel like, yeah, go on.
Many of us are willing to pay whatever price necessary to enjoy the freedom the airport offers,
but increasingly, there are those who believe that price is now too high.
I would say that it's just in the last few years that climate change has become a mainstream issue.
We live in a world where people want to fly, we've got used to flying,
we expect it as a part of our lives, and, you know, we recognise that,
but in the context of climate change we can't carry on
flying as much as we have been, and so in the short term,
we can at least stop policy from facilitating loads more flying
by simply preventing our airports from expanding.
The fact that so many people, say, are campaigning against
airport expansions around the world, says that the age of, you know,
innocence or the age of love of mass travel for its own sake has gone
and indeed many people are questioning the need and the desire
just to travel anywhere they like as cheaply as possible.
It's not unreasonable to think that Heathrow itself will be
a great modernist ruin, its once thronged booking halls and malls
sort of tumbleweeds of desuetude blowing through them, it's a rather beautiful image.
Modernism should have its ruins, every other era does.
Whatever the future holds for the airport, for the last 90 years it has
taken us on an extraordinary journey,
expanding our horizons, changing our culture and altering our landscape.
It has helped to make us who we are.
If you want to get a sense that you live in a modern world,
go to an airport, in a way that there's very few other places
that compare with it.
It sums up the promises of the age of modernity.
We're flying off to Lisbon in Portugal
just for four days, a break.
I'm flying to Poland to Britgus.
I'm going back to Versailles today.
I'm heading home to Almeria Province in Spain.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Three-part series charting the development of Britain's airports and how they have transformed the country, in the process creating both freedom and fear.
Once upon a time you could roam freely across airports, but no longer. This final episode reveals how the easily accessible airport of late Sixties turned into one besieged by present-day security procedures and climate protesters. With rare archive and eyewitness accounts, it relates the events that have shaped our contemporary experience of airports - with their x-rays, pat downs and scanners. But although the airport's sheen may be tarnished, we're using them more than ever. Contributors including architect Lord Foster and author Will Self explore why.