History

Machrihanish has been associated with aviation since the time of the First World War. From around 1916, the Royal Naval Service operated from a small military aerodrome to the south-east of the present site. In the summer of 1918, the site was taken over by the new Royal Air Force.

During the early 1940s, the Royal Navy built the present airfield and it was occupied by Fleet Air Arm Squadrons throughout the Second World War. The site was named H.M.S Landrail, RN Air Station, Machrihanish.

In the period from 1960 to 1962, the airbase was strategically important during the Cold War and underwent major reconstruction, being expanded to the East to its present size as part of a NATO plan for use by naval aircraft. The four original runways were replaced by an impressive 10,000 ft strip.

When the RAF took over the station again in May 1963, it became part of No 18 (Maritime) Group. NATO related development continued, with Machrihanish being designated a Master Diversion Airfield. In 1968, the US Navy established the Naval Aviation Weapons Facility on the site. Although this was designed and built to hold nuclear weapons, there are no records of such weapons ever being offloaded and stored there.

£100m upgrade
The last big expenditure on the site took place between 1989 and 1994 and cost around £100m, with a view to upgrade the airbase facilities for the RAF. Works carried out included the installation of the three JFSIs (Jet Fuel Storage Installations) and pipelines to Campbeltown Harbour, the upgrade of the HV ring main system, construction of the taxiway’s 24 aircraft parking aprons, a new perimeter road and civil air terminal.

Community buyout
The strategic importance of RAF Machrihanish diminished as the Cold War ended and the US Navy handed the site over to the Ministry of Defence in 1994 where it remained in “care and maintenance” until the community buyout in 2012. During this time, the site was used mainly by Loganair who operated commercial flights from Campbeltown Airport to Glasgow.

Today, MACC Development’s largest business tenants include Wind Towers Scotland, Highland & Island Airports Ltd, Argyll & Bute Council and soon to be Norwegian aquaculture firm, Niri.

The infrastructure and facilities on site have been maintained to a very high standard and remain in excellent working condition