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Abbotsinch (Glasgow)


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What is thought to be the world’s best preserved non-flying Spitfire now resides suspended aloft at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. LA198 was operated by No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron in the late 1940s until suffering a heavy landing at Horsham St Faith on 22 July 1949. The aircraft subsequently travelled around various airfields in Britain for many years until being gifted to the city almost 50 years later.

Also known as: Abbots Inch (misspelling) / Abbotts Inch (misspelling) / Abbotsinch Aerodrome / Abbotsinch Airport / Glasgow Airport / Glasgow Airport Business Park / Glasgow International Airport / HMS Sanderling / RAF Abbotsinch / RNAS Abbotsinch
County: Renfrewshire
Current Status: Aviation
Date: Opened 23 January 1933
Current Use: Active
Used By: RAF (main user) / RAF (Polish) / FAA (main user) / Civil (main user) / Civil (foreign) / RCAF / RNZAF
Landing Surface Types: Unpaved, later metal (1942), later paved (1944)
Aircraft Roles: Air observation post / Aircraft assembly / Airliner (main role) / Army aviation / Bomber / Communications / Fighter / Fighter-reconnaissance / General aviation / Maritime patrol / Naval aviation (main role) / Trainer

Now better known as Glasgow International Airport, Abbotsinch started life as a RAF airfield. It was initially home to No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron flying Westland Wapitis before these biplanes were replaced by Hawker Harts in 1934 and again by Hawker Hinds in June 1936. Twelve Hinds and their Bessonneau hangars were damaged during a storm on the night of 26 October leading to the aircraft being moved to Kent. Meanwhile, Avro Ansons arrived before the end of the year carrying out coastal patrol missions. Throughout the first half of the Second World War the airfield was home to many different types of aircraft for varying lengths of time and roles: these included Supermarine Spitfires, de Havilland Tiger Moths, Bristol Beauforts, Westland Lysanders and Douglas Bostons among others for duties including Army Co-operation and training.

In 1943 the airfield was officially handed over to the Royal Navy and became known as HMS Sanderling. During this time Abbotsinch was now principally used for as an Aircraft Maintenance Yard and for reserve aircraft storage. HMS Sanderling later housed Nos 1830 and 1843 Squadrons as part of the newly formed Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve primarily flying Fairey Firefly and Grumman Avenger aircraft until these units disbanded on 10 March 1957. Between 10 May 1946 and 10 March 1957 No 602 Squadron returned to fly Spitfires again and then jet-engined de Havilland Vampires from 1951. Evidence of the airfield’s naval history can be seen in the name of a JD Wetherspoon pub at the airport, The Sanderling. 

On 31 October 1963, the airfield was transferred to the Ministry of Aviation and reopened for commercial flights as Glasgow Airport on 2 May 1966, taking over from nearby Renfrew; renowned architect Sir Basil Spence designed the new terminal building. Construction went ahead despite the controversial nature of the development because the Government had already committed millions of pounds to the development of Prestwick Airport.

The main runway was expanded to cater for larger aircraft in 1973 and, after being purchased by the British Airports Authority in 1975, a £2 million extension was added to the terminal building to significantly increase capacity. At this point in time the airport was renamed Glasgow International Airport with transatlantic operators moving from Prestwick. Expansion continued during the 1980s, increasing the size of the terminal by 70% by 1989. The main terminal building was hugely expanded in 1990 so that the Sir Basil Spence designed building now stands within it. The original concrete arches that looked on to the roadside now form the facade of the check-in area. A new international pier was opened in 1994 and by 2000 the airport was handling over 6.9 million passengers a year. In 2003 redevelopment work was completed on what was known as the St Andrews building, now Terminal 2, in order to meet the demand created by the expansion of low cost airlines. There is still a small RAF presence at the airport in the form of the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Air Squadron (UGSAS), providing training to university students interested in pursuing a career in the RAF.

The airport was a target of a terrorist attack on 30 June 2007 when a Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane canisters was driven into the doors of the terminal building and set ablaze. Security bollards stopped the car from entering the building. One of the two drivers later died from their injuries and five members of the public were injured. As of 2015, Glasgow Airport is the second busiest in Scotland after Edinburgh and a further expansion is planned.


The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/07/2013):

  • 5th Gear Ltd
  • A Bientot
  • Accessorize
  • AeroSpa
  • AGS Airports Limited - owner
  • Alamo Rent A Car
  • American Express
  • Avis
  • Bargo
  • Barrhead Travel
  • Beardmore Bar & Restaurant
  • Beer&
  • Boots
  • Bread&
  • Budget
  • Cabubble
  • Caledonia Bar & Restaurant 
  • Campsie Snacks
  • Central SPORTS Bar and Grill
  • Deli Kitchen Cafe
  • Discover Glasgow
  • Dixons Travel
  • Dorothy Perkins
  • EAT.
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • Europcar
  • FatFace
  • First Milk
  • First Stop Cafe Bar
  • Frankie & Benny's
  • Fresh Food Central
  • Gama Aviation
  • GameGrid
  • Glasgow Airport Business Centre
  • Glasgow Airport Cabs
  • Glasgow Airport Cars
  • Glasgow Airport Ltd - operator
  • Glasgow Airport Travelodge
  • Happitots Nursery Glasgow Airport
  • Hertz
  • Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Airport
  • Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport
  • J&R Tennent Pier Bar Ltd
  • James Martin Kitchen
  • JD Sports
  • Jo Malone Bobbi Brown
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Kuehne+Nagel Ltd
  • Luggage Point 
  • Mozzo Cafe
  • National
  • Paisley Abbey - holds White Ensign of HMS Sanderling
  • Paisley North Community Council
  • Panopolis
  • Pentland Aviation
  • Premier Inn Glasgow Airport Hotel
  • Ramada Glasgow Airport Hotel
  • Relaxation Station UK LTD
  • Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce
  • Rolling Luggage
  • Scotland & Sea
  • Servisair
  • Signature Flight Support
  • Spectrum Interactive Limited
  • Starbucks
  • Stream Marine Training
  • Sunglass Hut
  • Swarovski
  • Taylor Wimpey
  • Tesco Express
  • The Avec Corporation Ltd
  • The Celtic Store
  • The Drum and Monkey
  • The Fashion Place
  • The Sanderling
  • The Sandpiper
  • The Taxi Centre
  • Thrifty Car and Van Rental
  • Tie Rack
  • Travelex
  • Victoria's Secret
  • WHSmith
  • WHSmith Bookshop
  • World Duty Free
  • World Duty Free Arrivals Store

Notable Past Associated Organisations:

  • Aviance UK
  • BAA Limited
  • BAA plc
  • Blackburn Aircraft Limited
  • British Airports Authority
  • Glasgow Corporation
  • Heathrow Airport Holdings

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 2 CPF
  • No 4 AEF
  • No 4 EGS / S4 EGS
  • No 4 GS
  • No 6 Aircraft Assembly Unit
  • No 21 Sqn
  • No 34 Sqn
  • No 88 Sqn
  • No 225 Sqn
  • No 232 Sqn
  • No 239 Sqn
  • No 254 Sqn
  • No 269 Sqn
  • No 309 Sqn
  • No 414 Sqn
  • No 418 Flight
  • No 489 Sqn
  • No 602 Sqn
  • No 607 Sqn
  • No 610 Sqn
  • No 663 GS
  • No 666 Sqn
  • No 730 Sqn
  • No 768 Sqn
  • No 800 Sqn
  • No 801 Sqn
  • No 802 Sqn
  • No 804 Sqn
  • No 807 Sqn
  • No 813 Sqn
  • No 816 Sqn
  • No 818 Sqn
  • No 819 Sqn
  • No 821 Sqn
  • No 824 Sqn
  • No 825 Sqn
  • No 831 Sqn
  • No 832 Sqn
  • No 835 Sqn
  • No 852 Sqn
  • No 892 Sqn
  • No 1441 (Combined Operations Development) Flight
  • No 1680 (Western Isles) Communications Flight
  • No 1702 Sqn
  • No 1830 Sqn
  • No 1840 Sqn
  • No 1843 Sqn
  • No 1967 Reserve AOP Flight
  • Abbotsinch Flying Club
  • ACE Scotland
  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeroflot
  • Air 2000
  • Air Atlanta Europe
  • Air Canada
  • Air Ecosse
  • Air France
  • Air Malta
  • Air Mediterranee
  • Air Scotland
  • Air Southwest
  • Air Transat
  • Air UK
  • Airtours International Airways
  • Airworld
  • American Airlines
  • Autair
  • BA Connect
  • BEA
  • BH Air
  • Blue Islands
  • BMA
  • BMI Regional
  • bmibaby
  • Britannia Airways
  • British Airways
  • British Eagle
  • British Island Airways
  • Brymon Airways
  • Burnthills Aviation
  • Continental Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Dan-Air 
  • Dubrovnik Airline
  • Eastern Airways
  • easyJet
  • Emirates
  • Europe Airpost
  • First Choice Airways
  • Flybe
  • Flyglobespan
  • Glasgow Air Centre
  • Glasgow Flying Club
  • Glasgow UAS
  • Iberia
  • Icelandair
  • JAT
  • Jetairfly
  • KLM
  • KLM Cityhopper
  • KLMuk
  • Loganair
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Malinair
  • Merchant Ship Fighter Unit
  • Monarch Airlines
  • MyTravel Airways
  • Orbest Orizonia Airlines
  • Pakistan International Airlines
  • SAS
  • Star1 Airlines
  • Sunwing Airlines
  • Swissair
  • Thomas Cook Airlines
  • Thomson Airways
  • Torpedo Training Unit
  • United Airlines
  • Universities of Glasgow & Strathclyde Air Sqn
  • US Airways
  • Viking Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • West of Scotland Flying Club
  • Wideroe
  • Wizz Air

A Luftwaffe reconnaissance photograph of the airfield area, focussing on the supply depot, 1941. © Historic Environment Scotland (Luftwaffe: Aerial Reconnaissance (Scotland)). Licensor


Aerial view of the airfield, 13 October 1942. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland. Licensor


Aerial view of Abbotsinch, 13 October 1942. © Historic Environment Scotland. Licensor


Fairey Gannets in storage at Abbotsinch in 1959. © Neil Aird

005sea hawks.jpg

Armstrong Whitworth Sea Hawks in storage at Abbotsinch in 1961. © Gordon L.R. Macadie


006Supermarine Attacker.jpg

A Supermarine Attacker F.1 used as a gate guardian at the western entrance. Photograph from 1961. The aircraft is now preserved at the FAA Museum at Yeovilton in Somerset. © Gordon L.R. Macadie

007aerial photo.jpg

An aerial photograph of Abbotsinch, c.1961. © Gordon L.R. Macadie


Perspective drawing showing the terminal building, from the Sir Basil Spence Archive, 1962. © Historic Environment Scotland (Sir Basil Spence Archive). Licensor


Perspective drawing showing the viewing terrace of the terminal building, from the Sir Basil Spence Archive, 17 January 1966. © Historic Environment Scotland (Sir Basil Spence Archive). Licensor


View of the terminal building, 1966. © Historic Environment Scotland (Sir Basil Spence Archive). Licensor


View of the terminal building, c. 1966. © Historic Environment Scotland (Sir Basil Spence Archive). Licensor


Aerial view of Glasgow Airport, 1990. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland. Licensor


An aerial view from east-south-east, 27 October 2005. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland. Licensor


Aerial view taken from the east-north-east, 31 May 2005. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland. Licensor

015Spitfire Kelvingrove.jpg

Spitfire LA198 at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The aircraft flew with No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron between 1947-1949. © Rico Rodriguez


An Airbus A380 lands at Glasgow Airport for the first time as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Emirates beginning scheduled services between Dubai and Glasgow, 10 April 2014. © Mark Harkin. Reproduced under this Creative Commons Licence.


Former ammunition store at Abbotsinch, 4 September 2018.

HM Queen Elizabeth II opening Glasgow Airport in 1966. Courtesy of British Pathé

Footage from Glasgow Airport in 1984. Courtesy of Allen McLaughlin


Plan of Abbotsinch, c. late 1940s. © Royal Navy Research Archive. Click here for more information.


Machrihanish / Renfrew

Decoy Airfield(s):

Gleniffer Braes

Predecessor Airfield(s):


Predecessor Airport(s):


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