'Please don't walk your dogs on our runway'

Selfie of man underneath airplane
Don't try this at home! Colin MacKinnon is urging safety at airfields [Colin MacKinnon]

Dog walkers are putting lives in danger by using a private runway to exercise their pets, an airfield owner claims.

Colin MacKinnon, who owns Strathaven Airfield in Lanarkshire, issued a safety plea after spotting a couple and their dogs on their traditional grass runway on Monday.

When he approached them, he said that they told him: "Oh, we were going to move if we saw an aircraft coming in."

"I was gobsmacked," the 63-year-old told BBC Scotland News.

"The engines on the airplanes only control the height - not speed like a car - so when they are landing it's quite quiet," he added.

The wind can also muffle the sound of the small and light planes as they land.

"We like to encourage everyone to come to the airfield, but safety is paramount," Mr MacKinnon said.

The independent, not-for-profit airfield covers about 50 acres. Its main grass runway is 530m (580 yards) long, and it has two smaller runways.

Several small, personal aircraft land at the airfield every day at speeds of 50-60mph (80-96 km/ph).

Mr MacKinnon said he finds pedestrians on the runway every two or three months.

"The danger comes especially if you are distracted and you can't hear the plane, but it is even more dangerous for pilots," he said.

"The most dangerous part of flying is when the pilot feels under pressure.

"Accidents start with a chain of events, so by telling people to stay off the runway we break the chain," he said.

Microlight plane
The airfield includes one of Scotland's only open-air microlight flying schools [Strathaven Airfield]

Mr MacKinnon said that his airfield welcomed visitors and wanted to encourage people to join the aviation industry.

The airfield hosts flying lessons and has 32 of its own small aircraft, which mostly fit one or two people.

This includes lessons for traditional small aircrafts and open-air microlight planes.

"We're happy to show people the airplanes and about the hangers," he said.

"We have a walking path around the airfield that we started during Covid and a picnic area.

"But be sensible if you're going to go anywhere near where planes are going to be - speak to someone at the airport and ask for advice."