RAF Longman

In 1932, wanting an airfield for Inverness, Highland Airways requested use of the public executioner’s ground at Longman, and permission was granted with the airfield opening in 1933. With Longman's location near the harbour and inner Moray Firth, it was envisaged that flying boats would utilise the facilities. However, flying boat operations proved to be the minority and on May 8th a regular daily land-based aircraft service opened between Orkney, Wick and Inverness, so passengers could connect with southbound trains.

After the outbreak of war, ‘A’ flight of 614 Sqn was dispatched to Longman (becoming 241 Sqn) with a flight of Lysander aircraft. In April 1941 Longman became officially RAF Longman, but 241 Sqn departed shortly after on the 15th April, leaving it with no aircraft. RAF Longman then became a relief landing ground for surrounding airfields, especially those with flooding or overcrowding issues such as RAF Kinloss and Lossiemouth. August 1941 saw the return of the Lysanders with the deployment of 309 Sqn supporting Army exercises. From Spring 1942, RAF Longman began hosting numerous sqns and aircraft with the arrival of 289 Sqn (flying Hurricanes and Oxfords for radar and gunnery calibration), 70 Signals Wing Calibration Flight (flying Blenheims) and 56 MU (Maintenance Unit).

Staff at Wick Headquarters, considered RAF Longman to be a great strategic asset protecting the Caledonian Canal and North of Scotland fuel supplies. Subjecting RAF Longman to elaborate defence exercises, in September 1942 this culminated with the airfields defences repelling a force of 50 'enemy' attackers from 3 flying boats which alighted on the Firth.

From June 1943 a twice weekly RAF ferry service commenced between Orkney, Inverness and Castletown. 70 Signals Wing Calibration Flight became 526 Sqn, which continued to calibrate ground and Naval radar stations using Blenheim IV, Hornet Moth and Oxford I aircraft, sometimes augmented with bright orange Hurricane I’s from 527 Sqn. Later that year, 3 Dominies from 527 Sqn formed a communications flight along with 782 Naval Sqn, providing communications for units in the North of Scotland.

RAF Longman held the record for uninterrupted operations up to 19th January 1945 when the airfield was closed due to snow. It soon re-opened after its personnel quickly cleared an 800yds runway, thus providing the only usable airfield in the north apart from Hatston, Orkney. From May 1945 sqns based at RAF Longman commenced disbandment and all were gone by July.

With the withdrawal of wartime restrictions on civil flying in 1946, RAF Longman was taken over by civil aviation authorities and the British European Division of BOAC started operations with German JU52 and latterly Dakotas. In 1947 Longman was considered too small for safe operations and all flying was moved to Dalcross, which became Inverness Airport.

Today, all that remains of RAF Longman is a Bellman storage hangar in the middle of Longman Industrial Estate and the fuel transfer depot, which supplies RAF Kinloss and Lossiemouth with aviation fuel.

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