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Located 25 miles south of Lerwick, Sumburgh was Shetlands first aerodrome and operated civilian flights during the 1930s. When war broke out in 1939 the RAF acquired it and 3 Gloster Gladiator biplanes were stationed here and known as the Sumburgh Fighter Flight, in those days there were only grass runways but these were eventually replaced by 3 hard surface runways and lengthened, further construction of large hangers, billet huts, sick bay, ammo dumps were also undertaken and a Station HQ formed on 13 May 1940 along with 254 squadrons Blenheims.



Above:  The airfield camp & Control tower RAF Sumburgh in the 1940s.   Photo: A.Isbister. 

Above: The first pilots to arrive at RAF Sumburgh were these Gladiator pilots of Shetland Fighter Flight in 1939/40.

From:  - P/O Francis is reputed to be in this photograph


Gloster Gladiator II   N5716.  Unst, Shetland. 21/06/1940.

This Gladiator of Sumburgh Fighter Flight had been on a routine patrol when it suffered an engine failure of the NE coast. 
The pilot in haste spotted a place to land and set the aircraft down on a beach in shallow water at Haroldswick, Unst,
 however before coming to a halt it hit a dip and flipped over, it is not certain how the pilot managed to free himself or
whether he was helped by locals, but it would appear he was OK and lived to fly another day.

Pilot:   P/O  Noel I. C. Francis.