Isles of Scilly ISLES OF SCILLY
aviation history




Aviation first came to the islands in 1917 when the Royal Naval Air Service established a large air station to operate anti-submarine patrols with flying-boats and seaplanes. The base was absorbed into the Royal Air Force on its formation in 1918, the unit later becoming 234 Squadron RAF and finally being disbanded in 1919.

air forces the air forces in Scilly


Scilly's strategic position was again recognised in the second world war, and a detachment of Hawker Hurricane fighters from 87 Squadron RAF was established on St Mary's in 1941. Its role was to deter enemy operations in the south-west, as well as to defend Scilly. The detachment became the independent 1449 Flight in the following year, and was disbanded in 1944.

air forces the air forces in Scilly


After the first visit of a landplane in August 1929, scheduled civil air services started on 15 September 1937 with twin-engined de Havilland Dragon biplanes of Channel Air Ferries. The mainland base was the newly opened Land's End Aerodrome. The first landing ground in Scilly was on the golf course, and the airfield on its current site opened in July 1939. Continuing through the war years the air route became part of British European Airways (BEA) in 1947.

The aircraft operated was the de Havilland Dragon Rapide, and the type remained in service until replaced by the twin-turbine Sikorsky S-61N helicopter in 1964. From the 1960s a number of other airlines have flown services to Scilly, notably Mayflower Air Services, Scillonia Airways, and Brymon Airways. In April 1975 the current terminal building was opened by the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, who was a regular visitor to Scilly.

airlines airlines to Scilly

The operation of successful fixed-wing air services brings problems which in many ways are peculiar to Scilly and its location at the very south-western tip of the UK. That the two most recent operators (Isles of Scilly Skybus and Brymon Airways) have maintained - and extended - services where others before have failed owes much to the design of the Britten-Norman Islander and de Havilland Canada Twin Otter aircraft used. However, this was at the price of increased wear on the airfield surface, and the subsequent requirement to build a hard runway.

airports airfields in Scilly and on the mainland

St Mary's is a popular destination for visiting aircraft, particularly during the summer months, and a number of light aircraft are resident.

Cherokee resident and visiting aircraft

airline services AIRLINE SERVICES

Present day airline services to Scilly are flown by the fixed-wing aircraft of Isles of Scilly Skybus.

Isles of Scilly Skybus

Established in 1984 Isles of Scilly Skybus is the islands' own airline. Services to Scilly are flown by Britten-Norman Islanders and de Havilland Canada Twin Otter from its base at Land's End (St Just) airfield and other airports, including Newquay, Exeter, Bristol, and Southampton.

Skybus flag Isles of Scilly Skybus

atlantic helicopter ATLANTIC HELICOPTERS

The airspace of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is unique in the number and diversity of helicopter operations - naval, military, and civil. As well as visiting civil helicopters these include aircraft of the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Cornwall Air Ambulance, and Trinity House.


The Cornish Flag with the addition of the Union Flag (the Union Jack) displayed in the canton is flown in Scilly, and has been chosen for these pages of the web site as it reflects the maritime heritage of Scilly.

Details of this ensign and other flags are shown on a separate page.


islands Isles of Scilly
an introduction
compass location
books recommended
Scilly Isles of Scilly

all text © Mike Ingham


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this page last updated 10 November 2012

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