Fifty years of flight at Dounreay

Fifty years of flight at Dounreay

Fifty years of aviation history at Dounreay are captured in a new section of the website.

It tells the story of the aerodrome next to the nuclear site, from its wartime beginnings in 1944 through various phases until it ceased operating in 1993.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the aerodrome was retained in a state of readiness for use by the RAF in the event of war with the Soviet Union.

Britain’s defence strategy evolved during the 1960s to a submarine-based deterrent and in 1970 the UK Atomic Energy Authority started using the runway for charter flights, with regular flights carrying people and materials to and from the site.

Among the VIPs who landed at the aerodrome in the 1970s were the Duke of Edinburgh and Margaret Thatcher, shortly after becoming Prime Minister in 1979.

The aerodrome was taken out of service in 1993 following an agreement between UKAEA and the Scottish Office to re-route traffic to Wick Airport as part of a major upgrading of the facilities by the Government. The runway is now used as a car park.