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Two new starters from two very different backgrounds have been welcomed to the tower at Teesside Airport.

Ben Harrety, 18, and Dan Parsons, 33, have joined the Air Traffic Control team in recent weeks.

Ben, from Wynyard, has always held a passion for aviation having started learning to fly aged just 14 and applied for an Air Traffic job while finishing his A-Levels.

An ardent aviation enthusiast, Ben said he first wanted to become an Air Traffic Controller when touring the airport while taking lessons.

He was interviewed for the Assistant role on his 18th birthday.

Ben added: “I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to come straight out of my A-Levels and come into this job.

“Because I’ve obsessed over aviation so much, I’ve perhaps been able to find my feet quite well as I understand some of the aviation terms and language.

“But I’ve not gone all the way yet – there’s a lot to learn and I’ve only just scratched the surface.”

Meanwhile, Dan has successfully made the transition from military to civil aviation and has set down roots in the North-East.

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Dan moved to the UK in 2010 with the ambition of flying for the Royal Air Force.

When that plan didn’t work out, he took a sidestep into Air Traffic Control, spending three-and-a-half years with the Navy and two-and-a-half years with the Air Force.

He left the military to pursue civil air traffic training and spent the past nine months securing his licenses in Gloucester.

“Landing a job here at Teesside Airport has been a dream come true.

“After eight years of working away from home, I was eager to find a position closer to my fiancée, who lives in the North-East. We’ve recently bought a house in Woodham, and being able to be at home is amazing.”

Dan explained the transition from military to civil aviation had been relatively smooth.

He said: “It’s been an enjoyable experience – I’ve loved it. While we adhere to the same rules, the styles of military and civilian controlling are different. Some people find it challenging to adapt to a new way of doing things but, luckily, I haven’t brought too many military habits with me!”

He was also full of praise for the working environment.

“It’s a steep learning curve, but I’ve never worked with a friendlier or happier team. It is a great place to work.”

Dan also highlighted the unique challenges of his new role.

He added: “Working here is very different from the military where the pace is fast, but you don’t usually deal with such a variety of aircraft.

“A lot of people look at Teesside Airport and see only our commercial flights. What they don’t realise is that the airspace is quite complex.

“We have two flight schools and Draken jets on site, which integrate with the commercial holiday flights. This variation in the size and speed of aircraft makes controlling at Teesside both challenging and interesting.”

Phil Forster, Managing Director of Teesside Airport, said: “It’s great to have Ben and Dan on the team.

“Having Dan’s wealth of experience is a big boost and we’re excited for Ben starting out on a promising career.

“Recruitment in Air Traffic Control has been tough nationally in recent years, but we’ve bucked that trend and successfully bolstered our team.

“It’s even more encouraging to see more workers from our region taking on roles and gaining their qualifications.

“The future is bright.”