Built to complement the small cottage hospital in Salen, its main reason was to act as Mull’s only fixed-wing air ambulance evacuation facility. Since its inception, David Howitt and his family, who then owned the adjacent Glenforsa Hotel, have operated it first of all for the Argyll County Council, then the Strathclyde Regional Council, and at present, the Roads Department of the Argyll & Bute Council.
Since its being built, an average of one patient a month has been airlifted from the strip, mainly by Britten-Norman Two Islander aircraft operated by Loganair pilots, and daytime Scottish Air Ambulance helicopters. Night time evacuations by Navy Sea Kings have occasionally taken place, and in all, over 400 patients have been airlifted from Mull.
For twelve years the airfield was licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority when Loganair operated a daily summer service from Glasgow to Connel (Oban), Coll, and Mull. The improved ferry sailings from Oban to Mull – six daily – probably contributed to the termination of the air service in 1980.
Many people, however, still remember that half-hour trip to Glasgow over the most beautiful countryside in the world, in the ultra-safe hands of Captains Duncan Macintosh, Jim Lee, Geoff Rosenbloom, Ken Foster, and Ben Thomas. Aztecs gave way to Islanders, then Skyvans and Trislanders, with the occasional Twin Otter, but the old BN2 outlasted them all for sheer rugged efficiency and safety in all kinds of weather.
With an average of some four hundred visiting light aircraft yearly, the highlight is the annual Mull Air Rally – its 36th in 2002. Sometimes as many as 150 aircraft arrive over that Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May when Glenforsa operates a ground-to-air advisory radio on the ubiquitous microlight frequency of 129.825.
As for name-dropping, some of the famous (and discriminating) air visitors to Mull have included Ted Dexter, Russell Harty, Robert Wagner, David Coulthard, Winnie Ewing, Donald Sutherland, Dave Gilmore, Phil Collins, and Tom Cruise, to name but a few. For more information on the airfield including flight information and standard landing fees click here.