Tuesday 24 November 2009

Shetland Radar

Unfortunately I have found little in print about Shetland Radar and there seem to be few photos available. I would appreciate it if anyone has material they are prepared to let me use would get in touch. Hugh, ex Shetland Radar, has kindly forwarded the following information and photo of their Ops Room:

"ShetRad Ops Room, after we moved upstairs - not posed at all :)

2 consoles, 1 for back up. Assistant tended to sit at one and the controller sat at the other.

What in essence looks like a Commodore Computer, (the Flt Lt leaning against it... tut tut :p  ) - this is 1985, so this was cutting edge technology, was in fact the machine that we entered all the callsigns into for the squawks to ShetRad to appear on the screen as BA30A, instead of 36XX , the same as Midland Radar - now long defunct
its over 25 years ago since i served there, and i can still tell you the callsigns and where they went - BA30A was to the Magnus field

Info was passed by Sumburgh to Shetrad and would be entered on the flight strips - very busy in the morning, then very quiet in the afternoon, till the evening when traffic was very sparse. As we were a Military operation, doing a Civilian job, we had to compile the stats in the morning, and they were sent off. The Companies got charged for using our services, so not to infrequently the AATC would be left trawling through 100's of flight strips looking to see if we had provided a service to an aircraft."

The following photos and clippings have come from various sources. (Left click on pictures to enlarge):-

I am not sure where the cutting above originated but there appears to have been a  mix-up in the drafting of the story.  The Air Commodore in the photograph is wrongly described in the article as Air Commodore Haveley. It is in fact Air Cdre Brian Huxley.
The cutting below is from the Shetland Times 11 Jan 1980


  1. I never though i'd see any info on ShetRad. Its been over 23 years since i left, and i can still remember it like it was yesterday - definitely the best tour i ever had

  2. I came across this site and immediately took a trip down memory lane. More than 30 years have passed since I left Unst, but I remember my time there well. While I could not describe it as "the best tour I ever had," it was an experience of a lifetime - who else manages a familiarization trip to a North Sea oil rig?
    I served at Shetland Radar from 1979-80 and was one of the initial three controllers posted there to found the operation.

  3. Hi, Thanks for the comment. You are the second person to confuse a long held belief!. Until very recently I believed that the only female on the site in 1979 was a Fighter Controller, called Sue Silver. However, last week I found a press clipping of Shetrad from 79 and one of the 3 people in it is female (an assistant I think). I have put the picture on a number of sites & have found the names of the 2 men! The photo is on a Facebook Group site - Friends of RAF/RRH Saxa Vord - If you can help it would be appreciated.
    I'm hoping to do some more on Shetrad in the future and have started gathering data but it's a slow process. If you feel you can help the email is: gordon.carle@gmail.com
    Good to hear from you

  4. SAC Ross Buchanan, Asst. Air Traffic originally based at RAF Kinloss, tower then Ops from 1976, I did my Radar training at RAF Shawbury in 1978 and volunteered for Shetland Radar. I was accepted in Oct 78 and posted to Shetland Radar from 3 Jan 79 until Aug 79.

  5. Thanks for getting in touch - I'll add your name to the list of personnel at Shetrad Part 2 over the weekend. I'd be very interested if you have any stories or photos from your time in Unst, there's a shortage of material available and it must have been a different posting from the Tower or Area Radar!