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TOPIC: Ballykelly

Ballykelly 01 Feb 2009 00:11 #1

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Ballykelly Airfield aerial photo 1960's

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Hugo.

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The historical listing of aviation sites in Ireland North and South http://www.irishavsites.com

Ballykelly 07 Feb 2009 20:03 #2

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I've been looking across the internet and through any publications I've been able to find looking for information about the extension to Ballykelly's runway that crossed the railway line to Londonderry.
I've found a picture of a Shakleton waiting for a steam train to pass and a more recent view that would suggest the runway has been broken up where the railway passes through it.
It seems there was a link between air traffic control and the local signal box.
I would appreciate any information about how the trains and aircraft worked around one another.
As an aside has the Army actually pulled out of Ballykelly?
Many thanks,
Barney.

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Ballykelly 27 Feb 2009 08:40 #3

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I have a couple of contacts at Ulster Aviation Soc who may have more current info. As far as I know the Army are still there -just, but will be pulling out. The large hangar there is a double length version of what I call the St Mawgan Superhangar, built around the same time for Shacks. I believe there are plans for an industrial estate, but the Superhangar's future is in doubt. I will ask about the railway.

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Ballykelly 27 Feb 2009 18:05 #4

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Someone told me (so its probabaly not true) that Ballykelly is built on a bog and that pumps are needed to stop the place flooding, is this true?

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Ballykelly 02 Mar 2009 14:05 #5

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David Hill of Ulster Aviation Soc replied to my query thus:

" The runway was extended to cross the railway line during 1943 so the the airfield could operate the Liberator to its maximum effect ie with as much fuel and weapons as possible to provide max range and endurance. When the RAF left Ballykelly in 1971 there was no further use for the full length of the E-W runway (about 7600 ft). Due to security considerations, the occasional visiting Hercules used the secondary runway, which had an approach over Lough Foyle. Even these aircraft had stopped using Ballykelly long before the Army vacated in april 08. A much shorter runway was eventually laid out at about the middle of the E-W runway to accommodate Army Islander aircraft based at Aldergrove.

"I can't confirm but I have heard that the base is currently under care and maintenance and the army are still considering further use of some sort. The occasional Gazelle can still be seen calling in from time to time. If they do continue to use the base I think it is likely that only a proportion of the current acreage will be retained and that will not include all of airfield part.

"I am not aware of the runway having been broken up near the railway line, but I have somewhat lost touch with what has been happening there of late. Must take a train ride to Coleraine and have a look!

"There was a direct link between the signal box at Limavady Junction which was just outside the airkield perimeter to the notheast and ATC. Aircraft would have to wait for trains to pass before taking off and landing under normal circumstances."

That might answer the rail question.

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Ballykelly 26 Mar 2009 08:58 #6

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Thanks for the information on Ballykelly.
I put Ballykelly Control Tower into google images and came up with this link;
http://flickr.com/photos/chris531/2693233567/
This has a nice picture of the tower taken fairly recently. There is also one of the big hanger with what looks like a car boot sale going on in front of it.
The runway that crossed the railway is now well broken up where the track passes through it and there is a derelict signalbox, built in 1943 according to the Signalling Record Society, on the railway's approach to the airfield.

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Ballykelly 26 Mar 2009 22:59 #7

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An interesting point is the railway allways took precedence, it was there first!

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Ballykelly 30 Mar 2009 21:22 #8

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Hi,

The railway had priority except in the case of an aircraft emergency. There was a direct interlock between the signal box and BK tower.

Martin

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Ballykelly 28 Nov 2009 19:38 #9

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canberra;18570 wrote: Someone told me (so its probabaly not true) that Ballykelly is built on a bog and that pumps are needed to stop the place flooding, is this true?


I visited BK a handful of times and it always seemed to be raining but there again you don't get the name Emerald Isle for nothing! There were pump houses on the airfield which pumped water from the airfield into the nearby Lough

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Last Edit: by netcompsys. Reason: de webshotted !

Ballykelly 31 Dec 2009 16:07 #10

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Hello everyone, my name is John Clifton and I was stationed at Ballykelly as a National Service Ground Wireless Fitter Corporal from Feb 1953 to Nov 1954. There were 3 Sqaudrons based there during my time(204, 240 and 269) all a mixture of Mk 1 & 2 Shacks. The control tower was one of my areas and I can confirm that on the south wall inside the tower there was a polished wooden box the size of a wall clock. On the outside was a dangling wooden handle, a spiral gong and a meter with one large needle which pointed to either "LINE CLEAR" or "LINE OCCUPIED". There was a bell inside the case which rang when the railway wanted possession of the line and yes, unless there was an emergency, trains had priority. The small signalbox by the side of the tracks was not normally manned but only used in fog or very bad weather. Another thing was that aircrew signallers were fined if the plane landed with the trailing aerial still wound out. This was because the (then steam) engine drivers did'nt like whirls of copper wire with lead weights on the end swishing round the cab sides.

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