Aviation talk for Probus members

LIMAVADY Aviation enthusiast Norman Thorpe was the guest speaker at the Probus Club last week.

Norman gave an enthralling and very informative power point presentation, ably assisted by friend and colleague John McFarland on the role RAF Ballykelly played in World War 2.

Members heard that the base was opened in June 1941 as an airfield for RAF coastal command, and that at its peak it had around 2,000 airmen and civilians.

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In 1943 the main runway was extended, and in doing so acquired an unusual characteristic in that in crossed an active railway line! Rules were put in place in giving trains the right of way over landing aircraft.

The base was used for anti-submarine patrols and escort convoys over the Atlantic ocean.

At various times B24 Liberator aircraft flew from Ballykelly against the threat of German U Boats, and by the end of the war had been responsible for the sinking of twelve boats and the destruction of other aircraft and surface ships.

The base closed at the end of WW2 but reopened in 1947 as the home for three Squadrons of Shackeltons 204,206,240.

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The base was also home to Lockheed Hudsons,Dakotas and Austers.

In proposing the vote of thanks Ian Scott, who had lived in Limavady for for 25 years, recalled his memories of the airbase and the people employed there.

He congratulated Norman and John on their wonderful presentatio,n which brought back so many memories to himself and many other members of the club.

The vote of thanks was duly passed on by the President Graham Kane.

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