Sunday, 28 August 2011

Senior Sky Pilots

In June 1959 the Right Reverend EF Easson, Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney paid an informal visit to the Unit. A year later he returned, accompanied by the Reverend FJ Bowen (Group Captain – Chaplain in Chief for Fighter command). On this occasion a service of dedication was held in the new Station Church.  (Left click on pictures to enlarge).
From then until the closure of the station there were frequent visits by senior churchmen including Chaplains-in-Chief of the RAF, Moderators  of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic Bishops of Aberdeen and various other Bishops of Aberdeen & Orkney.
Two more recent visits, about which I have a little more information, are described below:
Chaplain-in-Chief to the RAF - 1991
The Venerable Brian Lucas visited RAF Saxa Vord late in 1991. His main purpose was to open the new Station Chapel, which replaced the old church which had been housed in a wooden building near the Ice Cap (the building also housed Radio Saxa Vord for much of its’ life). As that building had been demolished around 1980 to make way for the new MTSS I presume temporary facilities had been used for services on camp for over 10 years. An article from the Shetland Times reporting on the service of dedication is below:
The interior of the new chapel can be seen in the following photo

Anglican Bishop to the RAF - 1995
The Right Reverent John Kirkham AKC MA visited the Unit in late May 1995. He was up for 2 days. I’m not sure what he did on the first day, perhaps it was a Sunday and a working day for him. On the second day of his visit he toured Fetlar and was shown Brough Lodge and the Fetlar Interpretive Centre. He also took the opportunity to visit a community of Anglican nuns “The Society of Our Lady of the Isles” in their convent. A selection of pictures from that trip follow

Sunday, 21 August 2011

More Shetland Air Travel

A few more reminders of air travel as experienced by servicemen and their families travelling to & from Unst, either on posting or, on leave. The photos have been grouped into two sections, the first group being associated with Sumburgh and the second, with Unst. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).

The picture below must be of one of the first aircraft to use the Unst Airstrip. Loganair did not start operating scheduled services to & from Unst until 1971.
The next 3 photos are of a Devon (the RAF equivalent of the De Havilland Dove). The Devon, along with the Percival Pembroke, was quite frequently used for transporting important equipment and senior officers to and from Saxa.
I’m grateful to Rein Boomsma (Saxa 71 to 73) for allowing me to use the next series of photos depicting Loganair operations in and out of Unst in the early years of the Airstrip.
Finally; two recent pictures of the Unst Airstrip. It is officially closed and unmanned. Very occasionally a private flyer may make a short visit but it is at their own risk – though the second photo below shows that the runway is still in good condition.

Previous sections associated with Air Travel are here:-


Sunday, 14 August 2011

AVM John Allison Visit 1994

In the first half of 1994 AVM John Allison, who was AOC 11 Gp until 15 Jul of that year, visited RAF Saxa Vord. I’m not sure about the purpose of the visit, perhaps it was just to say farewell. The eight b&w photos in this section were taken whilst ne was on the Unit.
The first four pictures appear to show an exchange of trophies between the AOC and the Stn Cdr. The AOC seems to be presenting a cup to the station – the wording on it is indistinct in the pictures but it looks like “HQ 11 Gp Small Stations Performance Trophy”. In return the Stn Cdr, Sqn Ldr Kevin Hann, is presenting some kind of Puffin memento to the AOC.(Left click on photos to enlarge).
The last four photos were taken up the hill, either at the Ops Site, or at the Radar Heads (possibly one or more at both sites).

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Pete Brindley – More recollections of Postings to Saxa

Pete Brindley has been kind enough to let me use a number of his pictures previously in this blog. Amongst other things they formed the basis for 2 complete sections:-
Pete was posted to Saxa on 3 occasions, 1963-64, 1973 -74 and again in 1977. The pictures already published came from his first tour and the pictures in this section were all taken in the 70’s. The first 3 photos show Pete + another at Transmitters and the type of VHF radio equipment which was in use in the earlier years of the Unit.
Although Inter-Island RoRo Ferries were operating in the first half of the 70’s, the sea link between Aberdeen and Lerwick was operated by the MV St Clair III until much later. Her last trip from Lerwick to Aberdeen was in early April 1977, after that she was replaced by the first RoRo Ferry on the route. Before then, those taking vehicles to & from Shetland were faced with slightly more old fashioned techniques as the next 2 photos show.
For those travelling by air, British Airways had replaced the Dart Heralds and Viscounts with Series 2 HS748s in 1975. The next 2 photos were, I believe, taken from an HS 748 – the first at Dyce and the second on approach to Sumburgh.
All one needed on arrival at Saxa was good weather and some time off to enjoy it – good weather & time off not always happening at the same time. However, in 1977 Pete managed to be lucky for a while as can be seen in the following pictures:-
The last few photos show the radar site on Saxa. The top of the hill was a massive construction site during this period. The second picture is an enlargement from the first and a large crane can be seen, possibly involved in the erection of the new S649 radar. The final pictures give an indication of why so many have wished to return to Unst!