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Dounreay

Old 5th Mar 2022, 23:12
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Dounreay

I'm looking for the information and kind of confirmation about the former RAF base at Dounreay. There is quite decent amount of information provided on the net however I would like to ask about more details of it, especially looking from the operational way of thinking.

I will refer to Dounreay as a 'base' in my post(pointing it just to make it clear).

I know the base was originally prepared for the RAF but due to end of the war, the base was transferred to the Royal Navy before being taken by UKAEA in 1955. One runway was kept operational until the 1990s for transport to/from the site.

I spoke with someone recently and during the conversation the person said these words: "Northern Scotland former RAF base that turned over to marines and coast guard for North Sea rescues. Mostly operated by a helicopters in the 90's but able to accomodate aircraft as well "

Heard that statement and I'm not sure what the person referred and just curious what base he thought about... I suspect it was Dounreay as most of his description matches with the place. I'm open to possibility of the place he referred to being some other location but I think I'm on the right path with my thoughts. At this point I would like to ask about your opinion on it and do a kind of-cross check.

I will left a few questions:
1. Were there helicopters operating out of Dounreay in the 90's?
2. Was the base ever used for the North Sea rescues?
3. Beside aforementioned base, are you aware of any other base/location matching aforementioned criteria and consistent with the mentioned and bolded quote?
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 08:27
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Suspect you are thinking of RAF Peterhead (Longside Heliport)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Peterhead

Extensively used in the past by Helicopters supporting the North-Sea

OH

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Old 6th Mar 2022, 08:54
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More information here:

https://www.forgottenairfields.com/a...nreay-888.html
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 09:23
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Originally Posted by OvertHawk View Post
Suspect you are thinking of RAF Peterhead (Longside Heliport)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Peterhead

Extensively used in the past by Helicopters supporting the North-Sea

OH
Totally different place and location!

RAF Dounreay became HMS Tern II before becoming HMS Vulcan. The final name still survives today with the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment (NRTE):



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Old 6th Mar 2022, 10:14
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Just for further info........
In the early sixties, there was a Low Level route from Cape Wrath/Garvie Island to Stroma in the Pentland Firth.
This obviously passed just to the north of Dounreay and on occasion we were warned of a DH Heron 2 in it's vicinity.
I found out later it was operated by English Electric, transporting staff from Leicester.
Maybe another brick in your wall ?
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 10:22
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Originally Posted by Lima Juliet View Post
Totally different place and location!

RAF Dounreay became HMS Tern II before becoming HMS Vulcan. The final name still survives today with the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment (NRTE):


Yes, that's the place. Just explored it on Google Earth to see archival satellite photos.
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 10:48
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I was raised in Thurso, the nearest large town to Dounreay. I lived there from the age of 10 months until I was 16 and a half and joined the RAF.

Iím not aware of any regular air operations out of Dounreay at any point, and certainly not any rescue operations.
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 11:35
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Originally Posted by Avionker View Post
I was raised in Thurso, the nearest large town to Dounreay. I lived there from the age of 10 months until I was 16 and a half and joined the RAF.

Iím not aware of any regular air operations out of Dounreay at any point, and certainly not any rescue operations.
That place doesn't and didn't have a runway. It's a requirement for the quote and a story I provided.
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 12:29
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The runway was used from the 70s and 80s by a company called Vernair from Liverpool. Contract eventually went to a Manchester based Company when Vernair were sold off'. They provided an Air Taxi service on Beech Kingairs for Boffins to and from Down South'. The nearby aerial farm operated by the US Navy was a local hazard! The occasional Dan' 748 delivered some special loads' from time to time. Runway was a bit rough' to say the least'.
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 16:19
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During the early 1980s Air Ecosse had a contract to move boxes of ‘glow sticks’ around the UK and parts of Europe. Usually operated by EMB 110, but at least once with the 3-30. Normal run was to Abingdon, occasionally Luton. Various places in Germany too. Yes the runway was rough - worse than Tiree, but it was just long enough. Always one passenger, a retired policeman who packed a revolver.
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 19:12
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A very senior mathematician at Dounreay was a member of our Jodel Flying Group. He could not get permission to use the runway, and had to use a farm field near Watten.
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 19:15
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Originally Posted by aw ditor View Post
The runway was used from the 70s and 80s by a company called Vernair from Liverpool. Contract eventually went to a Manchester based Company when Vernair were sold off'. They provided an Air Taxi service on Beech Kingairs for Boffins to and from Down South'. The nearby aerial farm operated by the US Navy was a local hazard! The occasional Dan' 748 delivered some special loads' from time to time. Runway was a bit rough' to say the least'.
Didn't Northair operate Beagle 206's out of Manchester to Dounreay in the 70's?
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Old 6th Mar 2022, 19:39
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Maoraigh 1. Not surprising given that the airspace is a Prohibited area.
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Old 7th Mar 2022, 08:43
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Originally Posted by Lima Juliet View Post
Totally different place and location!
I am fully aware that they are different places - having flown into both of them in helicopters .

The OP asked if Dounrey might be the

"Northern Scotland former RAF base that turned over to marines and coast guard for North Sea rescues. Mostly operated by a helicopters in the 90's"

I suggested that it is highly unlikely that Dounrey would be described as such and much more likely that it was Peterhead / Longside that was being described.

To my knowledge Dounrey was never the base for any helicopters other than the odd temporary detachment of helicopters doing survey work associated with the reactors. It was also never a stop off for any offshore flights although it might have been a refuel spot for the occasional SAR aircraft heading North-West.

Longside on the other hand was an absolute hotbed of offshore helicopter flying at one time - Not sure how much goes on there now as I'm out of touch.

OH




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Old 7th Mar 2022, 09:19
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Originally Posted by SWBKCB View Post
Didn't Northair operate Beagle 206's out of Manchester to Dounreay in the 70's?
Yes, I can remember them during the short time I was working at Preston ATCC in 1973.
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Old 7th Mar 2022, 09:20
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Originally Posted by OvertHawk View Post
I am fully aware that they are different places - having flown into both of them in helicopters .

The OP asked if Dounrey might be the

"Northern Scotland former RAF base that turned over to marines and coast guard for North Sea rescues. Mostly operated by a helicopters in the 90's"

I suggested that it is highly unlikely that Dounrey would be described as such and much more likely that it was Peterhead / Longside that was being described.

To my knowledge Dounrey was never the base for any helicopters other than the odd temporary detachment of helicopters doing survey work associated with the reactors. It was also never a stop off for any offshore flights although it might have been a refuel spot for the occasional SAR aircraft heading North-West.

Longside on the other hand was an absolute hotbed of offshore helicopter flying at one time - Not sure how much goes on there now as I'm out of touch.

OH
Possibly, but I don't think that Peterhead was never used as a RM base. I do wonder if the OP's conversationalist was conflating several bases (RM Condor for example) - although I'dd imagine that RM might have been used as security for the RN part of Dounreay.

Coastguard only ever operated out of Sumburgh and Stornaway (RAF/RN covered the rest).
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Old 7th Mar 2022, 11:13
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The quote in the OP does not seem to tie in with any single location in every specific so i think that the suggestion that several locations are being conflated is reasonable. What draws me to Peterehead / Longside is the fact that it ticks several of the bigger boxes:

1) It is ex RAF
2) It had / has a runway
3) It was extensively used by helicopters in the 80's / 90's and thereafter (And was often noted and quoted in the media as being a refuelling / staging post for SAR helicopter flights out into the North Sea).

OH

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Old 7th Mar 2022, 11:57
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Originally Posted by OvertHawk View Post
The quote in the OP does not seem to tie in with any single location in every specific so i think that the suggestion that several locations are being conflated is reasonable. What draws me to Peterehead / Longside is the fact that it ticks several of the bigger boxes:

1) It is ex RAF
2) It had / has a runway
3) It was extensively used by helicopters in the 80's / 90's and thereafter (And was often noted and quoted in the media as being a refuelling / staging post for SAR helicopter flights out into the North Sea).

OH
I agree, the OP's description does not fit one location. Condor has Marines but is an ex-RNAS and Douneray is an unlikely staging post for SAR given the proximity of Wick down the road. Longside was certainly a busy RW location.
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Old 7th Mar 2022, 15:59
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SWBKCB'

Yes, Northair before Vernair, but I believe they "lost' the Contract. Long story' and before my time'.
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Old 7th Mar 2022, 16:18
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Aa good friend of mine told me had operated 146s on freight charters into Dounreay on behalf of the nuclear operators!
Regards Stampe
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