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Machrihanish Air Station

Located 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Campbeltown on the Kintyre Peninsula, Machrihanish is a former RAF air station, notable for its weather forecasts. The base comprised exceptionally long runaway (3049m / 10,000 feet), together with a large number of technical buildings and accommodation. It has an International Air Transport Association (IATA) location code of "GQJ". Machrihanish was established as a naval air station in 1916, operating maritime patrol aircraft and airships. Between the wars a commercial aerodrome was established here, still operating as Campbeltown Airport. The naval air station was re-activated in 1941 and operated until 1946. It was re-activated again during the Korean War for training purposes. Between 1960-62, the base was reconstructed and the current runway built. Thereafter the base developed in relation to NATO requirements during the Cold War, and was the focus of anti-submarine operations with US-controlled nuclear depth charges. A US Navy Special Warfare (SEAL) unit was also based here.

Despite £10 million being spent to upgrade the station in the early 1990s, it was kept on a care-and-maintenance basis providing a runway for emergencies or in the event of conflict. The base closed in 1997. Declared surplus to Ministry of Defence requirements, the military station was offered for sale in 2009. The following year, local residents voted in favour of a community-buyout. The base has a fuel distribution system linked to the depot on Campbeltown Loch and the pipelines were mothballed when the base was closed.

Campbeltown (or Machrihanish) Airport uses the same runway and its terminal building is located at the southeastern end.


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