Islay Airport

(Glenegedale Airport, RAF Port Ellen)

Islay Airport is located at Glenegedale between the A846 road and the fine shell-sand beach of Laggan Bay, some 4 miles (6.5 km) north northwest of Port Ellen and 5 miles (8 km) south of Bowmore. It is operated by the government-owned Highland and Islands Airports Limited and has the International Air Transport Association (IATA) location code "ILY". Scheduled flights operate to Glasgow.

The first regular flight to Islay took place in 1928 when the Glasgow-Campbeltown service was extended to the island, using a temporary airfield in the north of the island. This airfield formally opened in 1935 but was taken over by the Royal Air Force in 1940. Known as RAF Port Ellen, it was primarily a training base. Three concrete runways were built in a triangular configuration in 1942. These remain, although only one runway and part of another are currently in use. The main runway extends to 1545m (5069 feet) and is 46m (151 feet) wide, while the second runway is 635m (2083 feet) in length and 18m (59 feet) wide. Further evidence of the airport's former role, in the form of roads, ruined buildings and aircraft stands, can also still be seen. The passenger terminal has been upgraded several times and now features wall hangings illustrating island culture and made from small hand-cut pieces of linoleum.

In 1932, a De Havilland Moth crashed on arrival from Glasgow without injury to the pilot but the aircraft was written off. In 1943, a Bristol Beaufighter based here crashed nearby on Maol Mheadhoin, having just taken off on a training mission, killing the crew of two. The following year, another Beaufighter crashed on Sunderland Hill in the west of the island, while also on a training mission from this airfield. The pilot was killed but the observer survived. In 1945 a Vickers Wellington crashed on landing and was written off, while in 1952 a De Havilland Dragon Rapide, on a scheduled passenger flight, also crashed on landing with no fatalities, but was damaged beyond repair. On 29th June 1994, HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, was allowed to take control of the plane on which he was travelling to land on Islay. Although he was a trained pilot, he misjudged the approach and overshot the runway, causing damage to the aircraft but without injury to those on board.

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