VC-10 is not a "know-nothing engineer", for anyone that is interested!
Not only that, he is right too!!
The white anti-collision lights are turned on just prior to entering the (or crossing an) active runway. Up until a few years ago, the Regulators in their collective wisdom didn't want pilots to turn the white anti-colls on until immediately prior to advancing the power levers for take-off. Then the landing accident at San Diego occurred and everyone came back to their senses.