RAF Balado Bridge
|RAF Balado Bridge|
T in the Park on the former Balado airfield in 2005
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Location||Kinross, Tayside, Scotland|
|Elevation AMSL||424 ft / 130 m|
RAF Balado Bridge is a former military airfield located 2 mi (3.2 km) west of Kinross, in central Scotland. It opened in 1942 as a satellite airfield to RAF Grangemouth, and closed in 1957. It has since served as a NATO satellite station, a microlight flying base, and as the venue for the T in the Park music festival.
Second World War
RAF Balado Bridge opened on 30 March 1942. The airfield would have been named "RAF Kinross" however it was the custom not to name airfields with names that may be confused with somewhere else. In this case it may have been confused with RAF Kinloss, near Forres, which was the home to No. 19 OTU, a Bomber Command OTU flying Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys. No. 58 Operational Training Unit RAF (03/1942 - 06/1944) was primarily based at RAF Grangemouth. It used RAF Balado as a satellite, to ease the pressure on the airfield at Grangemouth.
Balado Bridge had two runways, both made of concrete. The tower was of the Watch Office for Fighter Satellite Station type (it was updated throughout its life). There were two hangars, the larger of the two is a B1 type, designed by the engineers T Bedford as an aircraft repair shed, mainly for heavy bombers. This type first appeared in 1942 and was larger than the Bellman hangar which was also a temporary and transportable type. The smaller hangar was a Super Robin type. The Airfield was taken over by the War Department in November 1944.
After the war it became an aircraft graveyard when McDonnell Aircraft of nearby Milnathort broke up many hundreds of surplus Fleet Air Arm aircraft. The work reached its peak in 1946/7, but even as late as February 1952 their many airframes could still be seen in various stages of dismemberment. The most numerous were Harvards but there were also Fulmars, Fireflies, Martinets, Barracudas, Expeditors and a rare Fairchild Cornell FT673. Three Expeditors were all that remained in 1955. It was also used from 1946 for light aircraft and gliding until its final closure in 1957.
Following decommissioning as an RAF station, part of the site served as a NATO SATCOM Satellite Ground Listening Station, which operated from 1985 to 2006. From 1997 to 2014 Balado was the home of the annual T in the Park music festival, however, due to safety concerns about an oil pipeline lying directly underneath parts of the airfield the festival was moved to Strathallan Castle in 2015. There are a number of poultry farm buildings on parts of the old runways. The remaining section of the airfield, including the Control Tower, is used as a base for microlight flying.
- Bones Aviation Page: A Catalogue of UK Airfields[permanent dead link]
- History of 58 OTU Website by Wallace Shackleton, Kinross
- Control Towers Website: RAF Balado Bridge
- "Balado Bridge, Satcom III, Ground Station". Canmore. Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- "Iconic satellite station for sale". BBC News. 31 July 2006.
- "T in the Park festival moving to Strathallan Castle". BBC News. 25 June 2014.
- "Balado Park Airfield". Retrieved 7 March 2017.
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