The Final Approach The Secret Life of the Airport


The Final Approach

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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Transcript


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It's hard to imagine life without the airport.

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For the last century, it has shown us the future and helped make us modern.

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There's no question that airports of the 20th century were symbols

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of modernity, they were one of the most glamorous, exciting buildings you can think of.

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Today the airport is open to everyone,

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but it has turned out to be a far more complex place

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than we could have predicted.

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The new conflict is between our desire to enjoy increasing affluence

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and the realisation that this desire may lead us to catastrophe.

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We were on the peripheries of society, we were

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putting forward what was going on but nobody was listening to us.

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Now the only issue is - can you make it through the barrier?

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If you make it through the barrier, you're a good citizen, "bye, shit",

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and if you don't make it through the barrier you're an evil terrorist who should be disappeared.

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The airport still allows us freedom and adventure but at a price,

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perhaps a far greater price than we could ever have imagined.

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Over half a million travellers pass through Britain's airports every day.

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And each year, most of us will visit the airport.

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The huge change that's come in the last 40 years

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is that flying's become a mass activity, everyone almost

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has flown and very large numbers of people have flown long distances

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across the world, and this means that airports

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are part of everyday experience in a way they never were.

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We're flying to Malaga to visit our daughter.

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I am heading to Accra, Ghana.

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I'm going to Knock today, I'm flying home from college for a couple of weeks for Easter.

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In the early days of the airport, flying was the preserve

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of the super-rich - and there weren't too many of them.

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In the '60s, costs came down and British holidaymakers flocked to the airport.

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But things really took off in 1970 when a new aircraft headed for

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Heathrow, one that would put the 100-seater jet in the shade.

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With room for four times as many passengers, the Jumbo would revolutionise the airport.

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Seeing it on the horizon coming in,

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you don't really get the idea of the size of it, but as it gets nearer

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and it kind of fills the whole of your eyesight, you realise that it was a massive aircraft.

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We went out to have a look at this aircraft

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and we just could not believe it, we were gobsmacked, we really were.

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I stood underneath the wheel base and I said

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that interior is bigger than my lounge, and it was.

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Captain Des Tranter and his crew brought the first Jumbo from the States

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in just over six and a half hours.

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It was there, it was reality out at Heathrow and it changed the way that we travel

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and the cost of travel. I think when it landed we realised it was going to revolutionise air travel.

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It wasn't only in the passenger side, we had to carry a lot of cargo, a lot of mail,

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but it made a huge difference, and we had to fill those aeroplanes for them to carry on flying.

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With the arrival of such a huge aircraft, the airport needed to be bigger too,

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but Heathrow was at full stretch - and it looked like it was struggling to cope.

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London faces erosion of its position as the hub of international air transport.

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Heathrow Airport has room to expand passenger facilities, but it's got no more room for runways.

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And yet the important thing is that no matter what you do here or what improvements you make,

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London Airport will be saturated in how many years?

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By 1974 we'll be full up.

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This was an era of great affluence and fast economic growth,

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demand for flying was growing very rapidly indeed.

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The government had got itself in a bit of a fix because Heathrow was limited basically to two runways

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and Gatwick, as the second airport, had been limited by a commitment that still stands to this day

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to an only one runway airport,

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and so there was a very urgent need to make long-term provision.

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This was going to be a challenge. Heathrow had been around for over

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20 years and by the Jet Age, everyone knew what it was like to live next to it.

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Moving day for Mr and Mrs Fred Turner.

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Their house became untenable when a runway was extended at London Airport.

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They had to sell up at a loss and get out.

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I suppose I've been on about

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PLANE ENGINE DROWNS SPEECH

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It's quite clear that the jet is the defining sound of the last 40 years of the 20th century.

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Before the aeroplane's invention, the only things that could be heard

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in the sky were thunder or birdsong,

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here now there was a new sound in the sky.

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I think as the century has progressed the sound of aircraft has intensified

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and also has intensified our sense of what it is to be modern.

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We've lived here 75 years, all my life.

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I'm 72 years, yeah. It's a good area, this place here is a good area.

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It's got a good bus service now.

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You know, we're not overlooked, we've got nice houses here.

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We've got a nice gardens, nice big back garden, nice front garden,

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three or four cars in the front garden with a lawn.

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Where would you get that today?

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To begin with, the villages around Heathrow were relatively undisturbed by the airport next door.

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New engine power,

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drawing its smooth, steady strength from both turbines and propellers.

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Turbo prop, remember the turbo prop.

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Yeah. They were usually all quiet except till the jets started coming.

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More noise from the jets, obviously.

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More noise.

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Just ear-shattering, really, and, you know, trembling sound

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against your stomach you got with them.

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Do you remember that bloke from Reading where the bloke do the ceilings, artexed the ceiling?

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And he was in here and Concorde went off.

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He come out, "What the bloody hell was that?"

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Frightened him to death.

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Noise was becoming a big issue, but in the late '60s, with more frequent and bigger

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aircraft landing at Heathrow, there was no doubt that a new airport was in the national interest.

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And to do its credit to the government of that day,

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the Harold Wilson Labour Government took the very long-term view,

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and appointed the Roskill Commission

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with the aim of doing the most exhaustive impartial study ever

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of the need for and the location of a third London airport.

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Good evening. In the coming age of jumbo jets

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and supersonic speed, how and where will we

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make room for new airports in England's green and pleasant land?

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Are we to be masters of our technology or fugitives from it?

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The Roskill Commission immediately started looking around London for potential airport sites.

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Its first task - to produce a shortlist.

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When Roskill first started his work, frankly, he was below the horizon.

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We knew, we'd read the Daily Telegraph and there

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were stories about him looking for a site in Britain. No-one dreamed it would ever come here.

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The Roskill Commission, which makes the final recommendation to the government on this point

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has now come up with its shortlist of four sites chosen on the grounds of their cost,

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their general suitability as an airport and how they fit in with planning considerations.

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The four sites chosen were Thurleigh and Nuthampstead, both north of London, Foulness

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on the Essex coast, and Cublington, a small village in Buckinghamshire.

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In each village, the very idea of an airport was hotly debated.

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For some it meant the destruction of the countryside, for others the creation of jobs.

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I would say 90% of the people that have come in my shop are for the airport.

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-90%?

-I would truly say...

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I don't agree at all. I refute that remark completely,

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because the things against it are much, much greater.

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This will be a place for old people, there'll be no youngsters.

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Even now the youngsters have to go out to get homes.

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What's wrong with that? People have always had to go out of villages to work.

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Well, why should they?

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They go and live near where the work is if they want to leave their work and the noise.

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Roskill knew that choosing between the four sites

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was going to be tricky, but he had a secret weapon up his sleeve, one that would ensure a fair decision.

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He was going to use the cold hard logic of a modern method of decision making, cost-benefit analysis.

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An approach so rational, he thought, no-one could argue with it.

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It didn't take into account

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questions of the quality of life, really.

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We are here, we want it, we're for it.

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In an uproar in this country unsurpassed in the political history

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of the place where we live.

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The campaign to prevent the airport being built at Cublington was started by a young barrister.

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I suppose I have to say that I'm the original NIMBY, but I'm afraid it's a matter of no concern,

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and I for one was not going to sit down and wave my legs in the air and say "this is a good idea".

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If the new airport comes here it wouldn't be anything like

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this strip which the countryside has been able to assimilate.

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The new airport will occupy a space of five miles by two-and-a-half, and many a devoted life plan

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seen in terms not of years but of generations will be suddenly meaningless.

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The proposed airport was going to be over twice the size of Heathrow with four runways.

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The villages that were going would have been Stewkley,

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Winslow and Cublington.

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I can't believe that Drayton Parslow would have been still there.

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Dunton, Whitchurch and Drayton Parslow,

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would have been absolutely intolerable to remain in.

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The local MP decided to throw his considerable weight behind the campaign.

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Captain Robert Maxwell, Military Cross, was the Member of Parliament

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for this constituency which was then Buckingham.

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He began to think that he was in danger

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of losing the seat, and I was then sent for by him.

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He said to me, "Who is the chairman of your organisation?"

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So I said, "Well, I am, sir."

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"Well," he said, "what you really need is somebody of national prestige."

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I looked as though I didn't know what the answer was going to be

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and he said, "I have enough prestige to sink a battleship."

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In a choice between people and money, the Roskill Commission will choose money.

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We say people matter more than money!

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APPLAUSE

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And he then said, "I'll tell you now, Fennell, that if you don't accept my invitation

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"I shall destroy your organisation and you will be out of a job."

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This was the first time that I'd been involved in anything political,

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let alone at this particular level.

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Fennell's campaign committee threatened to resign if Maxwell took over.

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So he called the MP's office to reject his offer.

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Quaking in my boots, I rang up the constituency agent and I said, "Well, it's about the airport."

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"Oh," he said, "we've just passed a resolution in favour of that."

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So I said, "in favour of it?" "Yes," he said, "in favour."

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I said, "I thought Captain Maxwell wanted to be against it."

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He said, "I don't know about that, there must be a mistake."

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Unable to rely on their own MP for support,

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the campaign needed a new champion, someone who wanted

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to protect England's green and pleasant land as much as they did.

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Thank you very much indeed for coming.

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I've got hours of stuff to go on with...

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We managed to persuade John Betjeman to come out

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and he had a very good lunch

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and said to me as an aside, "do you think it'll matter if I'm a bit squiffy?"

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But he produced a very good lecture.

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The roads are all widened,

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the lanes are all straight, so that rising executives won't have to wait.

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For who would use a footpath to Quainton or Brill, when a jet can convey him as far as Brazil?

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LAUGHTER

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For two years the Commission crunched the numbers to decide which

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of the four sites would be best.

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Then just before Christmas in 1970, it gave its verdict.

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The airport should be built at Cublington. The campaign had failed.

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There was a surge of, well, disbelief,

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and I think people did then get really upset.

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I was absolutely furious.

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For an unknown fringe element it was time for something more direct than

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poetry to ensure the government did not accept Roskill's recommendation.

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It was a Saturday morning, six o'clock in the morning, I was in bed, fast asleep.

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Telephone rang, a very gruff voice said in a broad Buckinghamshire accent, "Look in your letterbox.

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"Everyone in the area's got one."

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And the phone went dead.

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Behind my letterbox was a pamphlet with full details of how to make a petrol bomb.

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We found pieces of paper had been pinned onto telegraph poles and public notice boards and so on

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which actually gave the blueprint for making Molotov cocktails.

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This was entirely illegal, but we actually made one to see if it worked.

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And it did, we tested one out up on what used to be the old airfield

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in a derelict building!

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We also tried out one or two other devices, some of them were very ingenious, they wouldn't be any use

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to modern terrorists, they were very simple and primitive, but they would have worked.

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I'd phoned friends who confirmed they'd had these

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things put through their letterbox and we sent off a story.

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The Cublington campaign now had everyone's attention, so the villagers pushed on,

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but with publicity stunts that were more traditional.

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All sorts of things, going around bumper to bumper in an enormous

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column around what would have been the perimeter of the airport site.

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The second event we organised was a large rally.

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12,000 people turned up to this.

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The day of the inland airport has gone.

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For all the fun and games, the campaign

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wanted to make just one point, the logic of cost-benefit analysis might

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conclude that you should build a massive airport in Buckinghamshire, but that didn't make it right.

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So it's now blasphemy for a commission of learned economists, however well-intentioned,

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to try to add up the benefits of living in Stewkley

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and weigh them against the price of an air ticket to New York.

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They came to be widely criticised, even pilloried, for trying

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to value a Norman church by putting the insurance value on it.

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This was seen, in the famous words of a critic,

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Professor Peter Self, as "nonsense on stilts."

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My father, Peter Self, was Professor of Public Administration at the London School of Economics.

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His basic feeling was that the cost benefit analysis

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was a fundamentally flawed way

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of dealing with large scale projects like this.

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Dad said the loss of quality of life that was represented

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by the airport could not be assigned a simple integer

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I think the whole Wilsonian white heat of technology

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was more about money than it was about anything else.

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The Cublington campaign weren't against a new airport.

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In fact they believed that there was a location on Roskill's short-list that would be ideal.

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The obvious answer was to have a coastal site, that was Foulness.

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That became the centre of our activities towards the final chapter of the campaign.

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Foulness was an expanse of tidal marshland at the mouth of the Thames,

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and it was the only coastal site on Roskill's short-list.

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Although fewer people lived there it had been rejected because building an airport on reclaimed land cost more.

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But Foulness offered the nation the possibility of the perfect airport for the future.

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If you had to summarise the difference in planning terms

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between Foulness on the one hand and Cublington on the other,

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how would you put it?

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Er, I would put it that the...Foulness site

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can physically accommodate the urbanisation that is required,

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that is...accepted, I think, by everyone.

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I thought then, as I think now,

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that the best place to put an airport, other things being equal,

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which they sometimes aren't, is a seaside location

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or a riverside location,

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that is where the flights can approach and take off over water.

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Amazingly the Government agreed. They rejected Roskill's recommendation

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and decided to spend extra money on building runways over the sea.

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Foulness would be the site for London's brand new international airport,

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and Cublington was spared.

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When we marched down the village in the torch-light procession,

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I bet I cried because I cry at anything.

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I think the fight was that people mattered.

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That's was the overriding thing, that people are more valuable than money.

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Planning immediately started on Britain's largest ever civil engineering project.

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This was to be Europe's most modern airport.

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The "foul" in Foulness referred to birds, but, nonetheless,

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the name wasn't felt to be attractive enough for international travellers.

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So that was the first thing to go.

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'At the headquarters of the hydraulics research station is a two-acre model of Maplin Sands,

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'site of the projected third London Airport.

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'Starting small at the opening in 1980 or '81,

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'the airport will build up to handle 20 million passengers a year.'

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The new international airport couldn't come soon enough,

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because all the existing ones were busier than ever.

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'Within a few years, the volume of charter air traffic in Europe will have over taken schedule traffic,

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'and some of these obscure airlines may become just as familiar as BEA or KLM.'

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It was boom time for the British airport.

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More people travelled in 1973 than at any time in the history of aviation and the travel industry.

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That build up that had been taking place over the previous five years came to a head in 1973.

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Regional airports came into their own.

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Their locations made them convenient for eager holidaymakers, and cheap landing fees

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attracted major tour operators like Thompsons, Courtline and Clarkson's.

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The most important airport initially, of course, was Luton.

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One of the great advantages that Clarkson's had was that it was able to use an air terminal

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in the Finchley Road. Customers were able to get on a coach, they'd go straight to Luton Airport,

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so it managed to ensure that an airport like Luton was suddenly put to the forefront.

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In terms of passenger numbers there'd never been such growth,

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but underneath was an underlying problem of profitability.

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'And this year more than ever Britain's tour operators desperately need you to come,

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'because financially this could be the most crucial season since the air charter holiday business began.'

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Clarkson's motto was we won't be beaten on price, we were going

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to be cheaper than anybody else, we were going to make up for low prices

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by getting volume, by filling our aircraft completely, and they tried to fill them to unrealistic levels.

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What finally hit them was trying to do that at a time

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of rising fuel prices after the Arab-Israeli war.

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And it was very clear to tour operators that 1974 was not going to be a weak year.

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It was going to be a disastrous year, and it was clear that there would be a number of casualties.

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One major casualty of the economic crisis

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was the planned new international airport at Maplin Sands.

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At £800 million to construct,

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we simply could not afford it.

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The dream of an airport for the future was over.

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'The Government cancelled Maplin

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'at a point of really serious economic and political crisis.'

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I can only give you one gallon, sir.

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That'll get you to your nearest garage.

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There was strike after strike, power supplies failed,

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we were on a three-day week with power cuts nationally for four hours at a time,

0:23:210:23:25

people sitting in darkness. There was just no money to pay for anything.

0:23:250:23:30

The great post-war boom had come to an end.

0:23:300:23:33

I was working at Clarkson's, I went home

0:23:330:23:36

and my wife came into the kitchen and told me the news

0:23:360:23:40

that Clarkson's and Courtline had gone bust.

0:23:400:23:43

When Clarkson's went bust, the travel world exploded.

0:23:480:23:53

There was chaos. There were people stranded in Spain,

0:23:530:23:56

tens of thousands of people

0:23:560:23:58

that wanted to get home, had no idea and no-one to turn to

0:23:580:24:03

to get them home.

0:24:030:24:05

We've been sitting here for hours on end waiting.

0:24:050:24:08

In Britain, the airport, once a doorway beckoning us to exotic locations, was turning people away.

0:24:080:24:15

We paid a £190 for two of us, so what chance do you stand of getting any back? None.

0:24:150:24:20

-How do you feel about going on another package holiday?

-Oh, no, thanks!

0:24:200:24:24

Travel is really just all about dreams.

0:24:240:24:28

Suddenly you weren't buying a dream, you were buying a big risk

0:24:290:24:33

that you could be left stranded either having

0:24:330:24:37

to find your own way back from somewhere in Spain or just losing your holiday, losing your money.

0:24:370:24:43

I think that hurt an awful lot of people.

0:24:430:24:47

In 1974 for the first time in the airport's history, the unthinkable happened.

0:24:480:24:54

Passenger numbers fell...

0:24:540:24:57

by millions, and there were darker days to come.

0:24:570:25:00

On the 19th of May, an IRA car bomb exploded at Heathrow.

0:25:000:25:04

The bomb went off at just about twenty minutes past eleven

0:25:040:25:08

this morning and the explosion was absolutely enormous.

0:25:080:25:11

The explosion came from behind and I was thrown on the floor and my colleague was

0:25:110:25:16

thrown across the other side, and the next thing, well, there was stuff flying all over the place.

0:25:160:25:22

'Just drove it straight into the front and it exploded

0:25:230:25:27

'two guys were in it.'

0:25:270:25:32

A deadly game of cat and mouse was being played out at the airport over the last 40 years.

0:25:320:25:38

As security has closed one loophole, terrorists have sought another.

0:25:380:25:43

In 1970, thereabouts, there was no security of any kind at any airport that I can recall.

0:25:470:25:54

People just arrived, walked out to the plane,

0:25:540:25:56

sometimes if it was a friend of a friend who worked at the airport

0:25:560:26:00

and knew somebody, they would come on the plane and we, on

0:26:000:26:03

the odd occasion I'd have to say, excuse me, would you mind getting off, we're ready to go here please.

0:26:030:26:08

Which was a far cry from what happens today, as you can imagine.

0:26:080:26:12

The security was completely nil.

0:26:120:26:15

But by the early '70s,

0:26:150:26:17

security measures began appearing at airports across the country.

0:26:170:26:21

Passengers and staff entering the airport are stopped

0:26:210:26:24

by police roadblocks and soldiers stand guard with guns at the ready.

0:26:240:26:28

Almost as if terrorism and antiterrorist precautions had

0:26:310:26:35

become an everyday part of the human condition.

0:26:350:26:38

Terrorism isn't about the physical carnage,

0:26:380:26:42

it's not about the mental and physical trauma,

0:26:420:26:45

it's about what it symbolises, it's about a media event.

0:26:450:26:48

And so it's not surprising, then, that airports should be a target for something like terrorism because

0:26:480:26:55

it's a way to get noticed, it's a way to get on the front pages.

0:26:550:26:59

From its earliest days the airport has been used as a stage by

0:26:590:27:03

politicians wanting to address the world.

0:27:030:27:06

So on the 6th September 1970, the Popular Front for the Liberation

0:27:060:27:11

of Palestine created their own airport to get their message out.

0:27:110:27:16

No breakfast, rumbling stomach, smoking too much,

0:27:160:27:20

bumping away towards what somebody says

0:27:200:27:24

is where we might find the aeroplanes.

0:27:240:27:27

A couple of American nets, us in the Beeb, and we bumped over one more hill and there's a great Wadi

0:27:270:27:34

laid out in front of us, and right in the centre of it,

0:27:340:27:38

bright in the sunshine are these two aircraft.

0:27:380:27:42

The next day the world woke to the news that two transatlantic

0:27:420:27:46

jets had been hijacked and forced to land in Jordan.

0:27:460:27:49

The hijackers were calling the airfield in the middle of the desert Revolution Airport.

0:27:490:27:54

50 miles north-west of Oman on the sun baked salt flats, the two airliners hijacked by the PLFP.

0:27:540:28:00

The two planes came in in the dusk last night with

0:28:000:28:03

flares and kerosene lights put there by the PFLP to guide the pilots in.

0:28:030:28:08

I think they realised that the whole life blood, the pulse of a sophisticated

0:28:080:28:14

society was in its ability to travel and therefore the symbol of that

0:28:140:28:20

wealth and power and ability to move, and internationalism was an airport.

0:28:200:28:27

All women and children who should have been released were released.

0:28:270:28:32

Immediately after the hijackings Heathrow stepped up security,

0:28:340:28:38

but the rest of the airport network weren't so quick off the mark.

0:28:380:28:42

And three days later in Bahrain, two more hijackers managed to board a BOAC flight.

0:28:420:28:49

The level of security on any given flight is only as good as

0:28:490:28:53

the security provided at the point of origin of each of the passengers on board that aircraft.

0:28:530:29:00

The plane had been heading for Heathrow, but now it too was bound for Revolution Airport.

0:29:000:29:06

'I said to the passenger, would you like some coffee?

0:29:060:29:09

'Yes, please, black.'

0:29:090:29:10

I served the coffee, I offered them sugar and as I did so,

0:29:100:29:13

I looked to see this barrel of a gun in my face. "Get back", he said.

0:29:130:29:16

I said who are you? And he said, "I am with the Palestinian Liberation Airways", he said.

0:29:160:29:23

And he sort of shoved the trolley almost to one side

0:29:230:29:26

and I'm, all I could think of to say was, you know, stop, be careful

0:29:260:29:29

please, you could, I'm thinking this guy could knock the coffee pot over and scald himself.

0:29:290:29:34

And here he is running around the cabin with a gun in his hand.

0:29:340:29:37

And eventually we were then informed we were going to be taken

0:29:370:29:40

to the desert, to Jordan, and land there, which we did.

0:29:400:29:45

It was the first ever hijacking of a British aeroplane.

0:29:450:29:50

'The BOAC arrived which was a shock for everybody, it was a shock for us.'

0:29:500:29:53

It was absolutely stunning in terms of the publicity that this group attracted around it.

0:29:550:30:02

Everybody on board quite reasonably OK and standing up to stay well.

0:30:020:30:08

Can you give us your name first?

0:30:080:30:12

Nigel, I'm British and I've come to Bahrain, and it's all

0:30:120:30:16

right in there, it's just hot.

0:30:160:30:19

The hijackers were demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners in return for the 300 hostages.

0:30:200:30:27

And the negotiations weren't going well.

0:30:270:30:30

Because of the tension in the capital there's a considerable worry that the already harassed

0:30:300:30:35

and nervous guerrillas who are holding the planes will in fact stick to their threats and blow

0:30:350:30:40

them up with the passengers on board if the European governments do not meet with their demands.

0:30:400:30:45

Eventually the hijackers released all of the hostages over a tense three week period.

0:30:450:30:51

-What's your name?

-Susan Ablet.

0:30:510:30:54

-Susan, how did you get on on board?

-It's all right.

0:30:540:30:56

'But the hijackers were still determined to make headlines.'

0:30:560:31:01

There was silence and it wasn't, you know, what seemed like a long while but in actual fact was only

0:31:010:31:06

most probably a matter of seconds before this enormous bang followed by this tidal wave of hot, hot

0:31:060:31:14

air which almost knocked you off your feet, and this of course came after the actual explosion.

0:31:140:31:20

We're into a completely different scene and we are then into the world where airline passengers are

0:31:280:31:34

beginning to have to face the fact that their lives may depend on the

0:31:340:31:38

level of security at the airport check-in desks, and this has made flying completely different.

0:31:380:31:45

This has, this has changed the whole world.

0:31:450:31:48

No hostages were killed, but the explosion at Revolution Airport reverberated around the world.

0:31:480:31:55

'The events at Revolution Airport essentially were a catalyst'

0:31:550:31:59

to the aviation security that we have today.

0:31:590:32:01

Everything that has happened in aviation security was born at that point.

0:32:010:32:07

American airports led the way, introducing metal detectors and x-ray machines.

0:32:070:32:13

This is one of the obvious electronic devices used in the screening process.

0:32:160:32:20

It's designed to detect first metal, when the passenger activated something he was frisked.

0:32:200:32:26

After a thorough search, a monkey wrench was found and he was allowed to board the plane.

0:32:260:32:31

These metal detectors and x-ray machines proved to be an effective

0:32:310:32:35

deterrent, so they were quickly introduced to British airports.

0:32:350:32:38

Ex-police officers examined passengers and their luggage electronically.

0:32:380:32:43

It might mean slower boarding but no-one argues with extra safeguards against sabotage and hijacking.

0:32:430:32:50

For me it's normally OK going through the metal detectors,

0:32:520:32:55

I must have a nice friendly face,

0:32:550:32:57

but my wife gets pulled over almost every time.

0:32:570:33:01

You start feeling a bit suspicious like you've done something wrong,

0:33:010:33:04

and it's a bit, it's just, it's not, you know, it's not great.

0:33:040:33:07

Over three months in 1972, searches of BOAC passengers

0:33:070:33:13

disclosed ten shotguns, 332 rounds of ammunition,

0:33:130:33:18

245 knives, 67 swords, six rifles,

0:33:180:33:23

five crossbows and 72 toy guns.

0:33:230:33:26

I'm going to take them away from you for a little while,

0:33:260:33:29

then when you get back, then when you get to wherever you're going, right, then you get them back.

0:33:290:33:34

-Know what I mean now? You can't have them...

-You're not..

0:33:340:33:36

You can't have them on the plane. You're not, you can have them, you can have them when we get off.

0:33:360:33:42

'The best job I ever had at the airport was frisking people,'

0:33:420:33:45

and the training was perfunctory, I think, to say the very least.

0:33:450:33:50

We were sat in the classroom for a couple of days where somebody

0:33:500:33:54

without much enthusiasm said, "Look, if you see something like this" --

0:33:540:33:58

and produced a Tupperware box with a few wires coming out of it --

0:33:580:34:02

"then it's probably suspicious so you ought to tell somebody about it."

0:34:020:34:05

X-ray machines had been introduced to help search baggage, but in the early days they were very basic.

0:34:070:34:15

The fact that x-rays themselves were cosmetic

0:34:150:34:19

was of course known within the industry but not to the general

0:34:190:34:23

public, and not necessarily to the terrorist.

0:34:230:34:27

There was always a threat their weapons would be identified.

0:34:270:34:31

Er, and it did have a remarkable effect,

0:34:310:34:35

the number of hijackings did go down, no question of that whatsoever.

0:34:350:34:42

However, we had to understand that if you use technological methods

0:34:450:34:50

to prevent hijacking and you lowered that threat then the terrorists

0:34:500:34:55

would switch somewhere else and they'd look for a different approach,

0:34:550:35:00

and eventually they looked towards the bomb.

0:35:000:35:04

'One evening the El Al flight was going through controls.'

0:35:040:35:07

Oh, after a few minutes, there was a bit of a furore,

0:35:070:35:10

and then this girl was escorted out in floods of tears.

0:35:100:35:15

When the saboteurs began to show their head, these were people who

0:35:150:35:20

wanted to bomb aircraft but not to be on board at the time.

0:35:200:35:23

And one example of that is Anne Murphy.

0:35:230:35:27

Anne Marie Murphy was a young Irish woman working as a chambermaid in London.

0:35:290:35:33

Pregnant by her Jordanian boyfriend, she thought she was flying to Israel to meet her future in-laws.

0:35:330:35:40

Before the discovery of the bomb at Heathrow, presumably everything was all going very well, was it?

0:35:400:35:47

Yes, it was, I was very happy that week.

0:35:470:35:50

Yeah, and we came back and then,

0:35:500:35:52

you know, for this to happen was absolutely dreadful.

0:35:550:36:00

'She had been arrested at the gate because she was carrying this bomb in the bottom of her'

0:36:000:36:06

piece of hand luggage, and the poor girl knew nothing about it, absolutely nothing about it.

0:36:060:36:11

In the holdall, they found nearly ten pounds of plastic explosives,

0:36:110:36:15

enough to blow the flight out of the sky.

0:36:150:36:18

Anne Marie's boyfriend was trying to exploit a weakness in airport security.

0:36:180:36:22

He had packed a bomb in her hand luggage believing

0:36:220:36:25

that the x-ray machine wouldn't detect it, and it didn't.

0:36:250:36:28

She walked straight through.

0:36:280:36:30

But the airline, alert to a threat, hand searched her bag at the gate.

0:36:300:36:35

This was, was a shattering, it was, I couldn't believe it, it was really terrible.

0:36:350:36:42

Anybody could do anything like that to another human being, that's terrible.

0:36:420:36:47

Really frightening.

0:36:470:36:50

The incident was to leave its mark on the security process.

0:36:530:36:57

The result of the inquiry of poor Anne Marie was that check-in were then told that they had to ask

0:36:580:37:06

everybody the question did anyone else touch your baggage,

0:37:060:37:10

are you carrying anything for anyone else?

0:37:100:37:14

-Did anyone interfere with your bag at all?

-No.

0:37:140:37:16

I just need a T-shirt saying,'Yes, I pack my bags myself sometimes.'

0:37:160:37:20

It's just a stupid question isn't it, obviously you've packed,

0:37:200:37:23

today my boyfriend's packed for me, but...

0:37:230:37:26

yeah, it's quite, quite frustrating.

0:37:260:37:30

In 1988, terrorists found another way to get a bomb on board a plane.

0:37:320:37:38

'Baggage reconciliation is sometimes called passenger and baggage matching.'

0:37:380:37:43

You have a passenger, you make sure that his bags are related to that

0:37:430:37:49

passenger and that no other bags get on board the aircraft.

0:37:490:37:53

'We were out for maybe about an hour

0:37:560:38:00

'and about to start the Atlantic crossing'

0:38:000:38:02

and the captain said to me, we're going to do a little circle around

0:38:020:38:05

here because we've just had word that the Pan Am behind us

0:38:050:38:08

has sort of vanished off the radar.

0:38:080:38:10

'There are growing fears that sabotage did bring the Pan Am

0:38:100:38:14

'jumbo jet crashing into the Scottish town of Lockerbie last night.'

0:38:140:38:18

The bombers had managed to get a bag onto Pan Am 103 to New York without getting on the plane themselves.

0:38:180:38:25

Pan American who were charged with reconciling passengers and baggage

0:38:250:38:31

to identify unaccompanied bags had decided quite deliberately

0:38:310:38:36

for financial reasons to abandon that procedure in Frankfurt,

0:38:360:38:41

and the bomb got on board.

0:38:410:38:44

The international regulations that insisted airlines reconciled their baggage did not work.

0:38:480:38:54

Something else was needed.

0:38:540:38:56

To counter the threat, the authorities turned to an unlikely place for inspiration.

0:38:580:39:03

CHECK-OUT BLEEPS

0:39:040:39:07

We looked at supermarkets.

0:39:080:39:10

Now, in supermarkets they'd introduced the barcode for all sorts of reasons,

0:39:100:39:16

and we thought, well, can we not adapt this technology

0:39:160:39:22

to an automated system of passenger and baggage matching?

0:39:220:39:29

You see the results today, every time a passenger gets on board an aeroplane

0:39:330:39:38

a barcode is being used, it's on his baggage tag,

0:39:380:39:43

it's on his flight coupon and it's on his boarding card.

0:39:430:39:46

So that on board an aircraft should be today only those bags

0:39:480:39:53

which have gone through this technological screening.

0:39:530:39:57

So much of security in our airports is actually hidden behind the scenes, so, for example,

0:39:590:40:05

when you hand over your bag and it disappears off on a conveyor belt what you don't know is that bag's

0:40:050:40:11

going through a whole screening process multiple layers of screening and some automated, some manual.

0:40:110:40:18

It's basically a road map of the baggage system.

0:40:180:40:22

All these islands that you can see at the top there, those are the check-in desks that the passenger

0:40:220:40:27

goes to, the baggage then travels on these conveyors where we inject onto a loop which circles x-ray machines,

0:40:270:40:34

if those x-ray machines accept the baggage, they travel down into what we call baggage sortation.

0:40:340:40:39

Pink means that they're on their way to another level of screening, which is another set

0:40:390:40:44

of more complex x-ray machines which have a lot better threat detection.

0:40:440:40:49

Terrorist attacks give us a moment to pause, but it doesn't

0:40:520:40:55

actually stop us from, from getting on a plane for any length of time.

0:40:550:41:00

We see these incidents, they do drift from memory over time

0:41:000:41:05

and gradually we become more relaxed about flying again.

0:41:050:41:10

Heightened security was a price we were prepared to pay for the freedom to fly.

0:41:120:41:17

I love going through security. I submit to them because

0:41:180:41:23

that's their job, they need to make sure that the passenger is clean.

0:41:230:41:27

Security's good, I mean, they're doing it for the benefit of us,

0:41:270:41:32

for our safety, so whatever they want we're quite, you know, you're quite happy to go along with it.

0:41:320:41:38

I think airports present us with this irony that it's about freedom,

0:41:420:41:46

it's about freedom to move,

0:41:460:41:48

yet to move freely we have to give up certain parts of ourselves.

0:41:480:41:52

We have to give up, in a sense, certain rights, about us that we hold, and so there's that,

0:41:520:41:58

that sort of give and take of, well, what do I give away in order to move the way I want to move?

0:41:580:42:03

The threat of terrorism changed the geography of the airport.

0:42:050:42:09

Corridors and checkpoints made it easier to control and monitor passengers.

0:42:090:42:14

In the end nothing is ever going to be totally secure, and in that sense

0:42:150:42:22

you could say that that is the eventual absolute capitulation

0:42:220:42:28

if the airport becomes the windowless, underground, atomic bunker.

0:42:280:42:36

A passionate aviator himself, Norman Foster was convinced

0:42:410:42:45

the airport could return to the excitement and freedom of the past.

0:42:450:42:49

When in the mid-Eighties, the government gave the go-ahead for a complete overhaul of a small regional

0:42:510:42:56

airport called Stansted, Foster was given the job.

0:42:560:43:00

You know, how do you avoid the experience of the airport being

0:43:000:43:04

in a way the equivalent of going to the dentist?

0:43:040:43:08

I describe it how you create an analogue experience in a, in a digital world.

0:43:080:43:15

So really you want the airport to be a friendly experience.

0:43:150:43:21

Norman Foster created a new model for what an airport might be.

0:43:210:43:25

He tried to go back to the simple idea of a big box which

0:43:250:43:30

you came in at one end, you could see the aircraft on the other side and you simply walked through it.

0:43:300:43:35

That was the idea.

0:43:350:43:37

It was absolutely superb because it was quite a new idea in airport design.

0:43:370:43:42

The roof was going to be simply like an umbrella or a sunshade and it's a

0:43:420:43:46

very handsome roof indeed, and the walls were basically

0:43:460:43:49

walls of glass that enabled you to see what was going on around you,

0:43:490:43:52

the aircraft taking off and landing.

0:43:520:43:54

So the idea was that you would come into the airport

0:43:540:43:57

and be aware of why you'd come there in the first place,

0:43:570:43:59

that you were going to fly.

0:43:590:44:01

Foster's Stansted was designed to be a glamorous international hub,

0:44:030:44:07

but things didn't turn out quite as planned.

0:44:070:44:09

In its early days, Stansted's new terminal was not a huge success,

0:44:090:44:14

they were desperate to attract traffic,

0:44:140:44:16

it was meant to be mainstream airlines and it was the budget airlines that moved there

0:44:160:44:22

at first, and it's become fuller and fuller and fuller, in a way choked by its own success.

0:44:220:44:27

Within months of opening, Ryanair moved in.

0:44:280:44:32

The stage was set for a revolution in air travel, and Stansted,

0:44:320:44:37

whatever its original aspirations, took full advantage of it.

0:44:370:44:40

Low cost airlines has without a doubt been the single-most important

0:44:400:44:44

influence on the travel industry in the course of the last ten years.

0:44:440:44:48

Low fares airlines have certainly put certain airports on the map --

0:44:480:44:53

who would have thought a few years ago that Stansted would now become

0:44:530:44:56

the third most important airport in Britain?

0:44:560:45:00

All those wonderful facilities, being used for the sort of people who when it was first built

0:45:030:45:08

simply were not regarded as potential travellers.

0:45:080:45:12

I think it's marvellous the way that this palace has been opened up to the people.

0:45:120:45:17

And last year, over 23 million of us flew into or out of Stansted.

0:45:170:45:23

Today almost half the UK's flights are taken on no frills airlines.

0:45:230:45:28

The airport never stands still, the airport is never satisfied with

0:45:280:45:32

what it has, it always needs more space, longer runways, more runways,

0:45:320:45:37

more terminals, more terminal area because airports are only about

0:45:370:45:42

masses, numbers, through-flow.

0:45:420:45:47

The airport is a factory to create flow and process.

0:45:470:45:53

The development of Stansted had taken 11 years and the

0:45:530:45:57

longest planning enquiry to date to go from the drawing board to opening.

0:45:570:46:02

Britain's airports had always met some local opposition,

0:46:020:46:05

but in the late '90s, new voices joined the NIMBYS.

0:46:050:46:09

I'm one of the tunnellers and I'm, my name is Disco Dave. Hello.

0:46:110:46:16

We were highlighting the global warming situation which

0:46:160:46:19

wasn't raised at all by the media, so we were on the peripheries of

0:46:190:46:23

society really, we were, we were putting forward what was going on

0:46:230:46:26

but nobody was listening to us.

0:46:260:46:28

"What are you, you're just a bunch of smelly hippies, you're not really, well, what are you doing?"

0:46:280:46:35

-Never seen people living up trees and things and never seen anybody like that, had we really?

-No.

0:46:370:46:43

So I think it was curiosity that got the better of us

0:46:430:46:46

and we went and had a look.

0:46:460:46:48

Actually, they were really nice people, you know, people couldn't understand why we were

0:46:480:46:53

friendly with them or talked to them, but a good 50% of them

0:46:530:46:56

were really nice and they were genuine in what they were doing.

0:46:560:47:00

In 1997, Manchester Airport wanted to build a new runway to increase capacity.

0:47:000:47:06

But within weeks of starting work, protesters were occupying the trees that needed to be cut down,

0:47:080:47:14

and they started digging tunnels under the proposed path of the new runway.

0:47:140:47:19

Gaynor and Sylvia had come round almost on a daily basis to certain camps.

0:47:190:47:26

They're the people who are bringing you supplies from the outside

0:47:260:47:29

without any reward, whatever, they're the unsung heroes really,

0:47:290:47:33

because we were getting all the glory, you know, tunnel team and the tree house people.

0:47:330:47:38

I think I'd rather go up a tree than down a tunnel.

0:47:380:47:40

-Yes. Hmm.

-I don't think you'd get me down a tunnel.

0:47:410:47:44

Well, I wouldn't be able to get down from the tree and I get claustrophobic.

0:47:440:47:48

We had a tunnel called the tight and nasty, basically.

0:47:480:47:52

It was a tight and nasty design because it was very small,

0:47:520:47:55

and it was basically, you had to go in it on your belly.

0:47:550:47:57

And it goes down.

0:47:570:48:00

This isn't the best place for a claustrophobic.

0:48:030:48:06

And we had something called a squeeze hole which was even tighter, you'd have to sort of,

0:48:060:48:12

like you were diving really, you'd put your head down six feet of very, very tight space.

0:48:120:48:20

It comes, go on, come on.

0:48:200:48:23

There's a specific wriggle that you can do that,

0:48:230:48:26

that really works well, but I am quite good at.

0:48:260:48:29

That's better.

0:48:300:48:31

The tunnels led to a bunker where the protesters lived and slept.

0:48:310:48:36

Night.

0:48:360:48:38

They were a bit bizarre, some of them.

0:48:400:48:42

I think the only person we had heard about was Swampy.

0:48:420:48:45

Because he had a name and we'd heard about him from other protests.

0:48:450:48:48

-He was there, he came and dug himself in I think for a little while.

-Yes, yes.

0:48:480:48:52

Swampy, known to his mum as Danny Hooper, gained celebrity status

0:48:520:48:56

after evading eviction for a week in a protest tunnel in Devon.

0:48:560:48:59

Swampy mania was gripping the country.

0:48:590:49:01

Like there was a Diana mania, there was a Swampy mania.

0:49:010:49:05

People would come from Liverpool and sit 20 feet away just to look at him

0:49:050:49:11

with their kids and say, well, there's Swampy.

0:49:110:49:13

Of course, we go into different places because there's so many

0:49:130:49:16

places that are being trashed, you know, but that's not a rent a mob,

0:49:160:49:20

that's a care for your planet, surely?

0:49:200:49:22

People ask what was it like?

0:49:220:49:24

I say, well, imagine Pirates of The Caribbean

0:49:240:49:27

but a landlubber sort of version.

0:49:270:49:29

We were, consumed vast quantities of alcohol, the amount of dope was, oh,

0:49:290:49:35

was massive, but then, then again we looked at it, why not?

0:49:350:49:39

We were going to go down this tunnel, there's a sort of a chance

0:49:410:49:44

there that you're not gonna come out so you think, to hell with it.

0:49:440:49:47

I think that the protesters against the Manchester runway extension had every right

0:49:470:49:52

to feel that they were romantics and that they were, you know, living this outlaw life,

0:49:520:49:57

and they were outlaws from the established law, the kind of

0:49:570:50:02

law of modernism, if you like, the law of globalisation at that point.

0:50:020:50:06

You know, the very fact that they tunnelled,

0:50:070:50:10

the very fact that they were involved in their own kind of

0:50:100:50:12

civil engineering project which literally subverted what the modernists

0:50:120:50:17

and the globalising ideologues were trying to do was very important.

0:50:170:50:21

Yeah!

0:50:220:50:24

The authorities called in the bailiffs to evict the protesters.

0:50:240:50:28

I told you, mate, you...

0:50:280:50:30

-Hey, don't you push into me.

-No, no, I wasn't.

0:50:320:50:35

They quickly removed the tree dwellers,

0:50:350:50:38

but the tunnellers had to be dug out, and a week later some were still under ground.

0:50:410:50:46

I was the last one in that tunnel

0:50:460:50:49

and the tunnel was basically collapsing at that point.

0:50:490:50:53

They were digging away but because of the erosion due to the,

0:50:540:50:59

the water, basically, the tunnel was falling in.

0:50:590:51:02

They're getting here today, definitely.

0:51:030:51:05

He was down there the longest and just as it happened,

0:51:050:51:08

he came out of the tunnel and within hours the tunnel actually collapsed.

0:51:080:51:13

That's how close he got, which I think frightened him at the time.

0:51:130:51:18

Construction work continued and Manchester Airport's second runway eventually opened in early 2001.

0:51:200:51:26

I saw the planes taking off in a different direction, coming over our house,

0:51:280:51:33

and I honestly can say I had tears in my eyes, really, it, I felt sick.

0:51:330:51:37

Environmental protest had not stopped the airport, but later that year

0:51:390:51:44

global events brought the entire network to its knees.

0:51:440:51:48

I'm in the greenhouse at home trying to get the greenfly off the tomatoes.

0:51:480:51:52

I came out of the cinema, walked down the street and saw a crowd outside a television shop.

0:51:520:51:57

And there's a shout from the kitchen, my wife, come in,

0:51:570:52:02

a plane has hit a tower in New York.

0:52:020:52:04

I was stunned, stunned.

0:52:060:52:09

I immediately went into denial, I simply couldn't assimilate what was happening.

0:52:090:52:14

I now realise I simply couldn't see it.

0:52:140:52:17

The skyscraper and the aeroplane coming together at that, that moment in time, these two sort of symbols

0:52:250:52:31

of the 20th and the 21st century, these things that sort of promised so much.

0:52:310:52:34

For me, it was about how they cancelled each other out, they

0:52:340:52:38

became nothingness, and for me that, that was the most poignant thing.

0:52:380:52:42

The effect on the airport was immediate.

0:52:440:52:47

Thousands of cancelled and diverted flights threw the system into turmoil.

0:52:470:52:51

It was the start of a massive increase in security

0:52:570:53:00

that has now reached levels unthinkable just a decade ago.

0:53:000:53:04

You're taking your hand luggage through, but you've also got to

0:53:070:53:10

hand down your passports, now you've also got to put all your perfumes, like, in a little bag.

0:53:100:53:15

So you find you need three hands at the minute.

0:53:150:53:17

I'm not quite sure whether we'll ever return to,

0:53:170:53:19

if you like, the good old days where you just walked through ever again.

0:53:190:53:24

But then again that's, you know, people just come to accept that.

0:53:240:53:28

We feel the state's presence because we are literally touched by it, we're literally,

0:53:290:53:34

we're, we're patted down, we're asked to take off our shoes and

0:53:340:53:37

we're asked to do things like that which we, we can find humiliating.

0:53:370:53:41

And we're then confronted with the reality that

0:53:410:53:45

we are being secured for a purpose, the purpose of preventing terrorism.

0:53:450:53:50

One of the principles of aviation security is the sterile lounge concept, the idea being that once

0:53:530:54:01

you pass through security screening you're in an area which is pure, which is clean.

0:54:010:54:07

Very safe, probably the safest place you can be in the world.

0:54:070:54:12

We've always had to prove our identity to pass through the airport,

0:54:150:54:20

but passports alone may no longer be enough.

0:54:200:54:24

Facial recognition software can match a face to the photo in a passport.

0:54:240:54:28

And some airports have now introduced iris scanning technology.

0:54:280:54:32

You could say that airports give us an idea of what the future would look like,

0:54:340:54:39

they emit this sort of, sort of science fiction fantasy

0:54:390:54:44

in some ways in, in terms of the sorts of things we see,

0:54:440:54:46

biometric technologies, finger print readers, iris recognition scanners,

0:54:460:54:50

first in airports and we now see them in, in schools, we now see them on our laptops.

0:54:500:54:55

So there's the sense that airports seem to shed light onto what's going to happen.

0:54:550:55:00

You can often see whether people accept the modern world or not

0:55:000:55:03

by kind of asking them how they feel about airports.

0:55:030:55:06

Many people are quite offended by them and they see them

0:55:060:55:09

as a symbol of everything that's wrong with the modern age.

0:55:090:55:12

People who feel more hopeful about technology and about the future

0:55:120:55:15

tend to celebrate airports.

0:55:150:55:16

So it's a Litmus test to how people are feeling about the direction of humanity.

0:55:160:55:20

Airports makes me feel wonderful, especially I haven't been home for the past six years.

0:55:200:55:26

I look positively at an airport cos I think of going home maybe for the weekend

0:55:260:55:30

or going on holidays or it's something positive, so, yeah, I like coming to the airport.

0:55:300:55:34

I feel like, yeah, go on.

0:55:340:55:37

Many of us are willing to pay whatever price necessary to enjoy the freedom the airport offers,

0:55:390:55:46

but increasingly, there are those who believe that price is now too high.

0:55:460:55:50

I would say that it's just in the last few years that climate change has become a mainstream issue.

0:55:550:56:01

We live in a world where people want to fly, we've got used to flying,

0:56:010:56:05

we expect it as a part of our lives, and, you know, we recognise that,

0:56:050:56:10

but in the context of climate change we can't carry on

0:56:100:56:14

flying as much as we have been, and so in the short term,

0:56:140:56:18

we can at least stop policy from facilitating loads more flying

0:56:180:56:24

by simply preventing our airports from expanding.

0:56:240:56:27

The fact that so many people, say, are campaigning against

0:56:290:56:32

airport expansions around the world, says that the age of, you know,

0:56:320:56:36

innocence or the age of love of mass travel for its own sake has gone

0:56:360:56:40

and indeed many people are questioning the need and the desire

0:56:400:56:44

just to travel anywhere they like as cheaply as possible.

0:56:440:56:47

It's not unreasonable to think that Heathrow itself will be

0:56:510:56:55

a great modernist ruin, its once thronged booking halls and malls

0:56:550:57:03

sort of tumbleweeds of desuetude blowing through them, it's a rather beautiful image.

0:57:030:57:08

Modernism should have its ruins, every other era does.

0:57:080:57:13

Whatever the future holds for the airport, for the last 90 years it has

0:57:150:57:19

taken us on an extraordinary journey,

0:57:190:57:22

expanding our horizons, changing our culture and altering our landscape.

0:57:220:57:28

It has helped to make us who we are.

0:57:280:57:30

If you want to get a sense that you live in a modern world,

0:57:320:57:34

go to an airport, in a way that there's very few other places

0:57:340:57:37

that compare with it.

0:57:370:57:39

It sums up the promises of the age of modernity.

0:57:390:57:42

We're flying off to Lisbon in Portugal

0:57:470:57:49

just for four days, a break.

0:57:490:57:52

I'm flying to Poland to Britgus.

0:57:540:57:56

I'm going back to Versailles today.

0:57:570:57:59

I'm heading home to Almeria Province in Spain.

0:58:000:58:04

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:420:58:45

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.


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