Unit History: RAF RYIAN ADEN
RAF Riyan, was the smallest of the Arabian route stations and was situated some 273 miles north-east along the coast from Aden in the Quaiti State, which was part of the Eastern Aden Protectorate. In the 1960s, the local ruler was the Sultan of Quaiti and he lived in the nearby city of Mukalla.
The Station itself was a collection of white, flat-topped buildings, and a sandy airstrip in the centre of a shallow scrub-covered desert, surrounded on three sides by high mountains. The station was built in 1945 and most of the buildings are those erected in that year. They were, however, in good condition and were airy and cool. Personnel numbers in barrack rooms varied between eight and twelve with SNCOs occupying individual rooms. There were three messes and an airmen’s club run by NAAFI.
The climate at Riyan was relatively good and generally more pleasant than it was in Aden. Cool sea breezes prevented excessive humidity and kept temperatures down even though brilliant sunshine was enjoyed for twelve hours every day. During the hot season, from May to September, the wind blew from the south-west. Sometimes it could be quite strong, inducing heavy afternoon dust storms. During the cool season, the weather was very pleasant and nights were cool enough for personnel to need blankets on their beds and for sweaters to be worn out of doors.
As a route station, Riyan was primarily concerned with the refuelling of RAF aircraft that operated along the South Arabian route, although much of the traffic handled was civilian. Aden Airways DC3 aircraft flew in and out almost every day, maintaining the civilian airline link between Aden and the Eastern Aden Protectorate, particularly the Wadi Hadhramout region. Because of the volume of civilian schedule traffic, Riyan was a very busy airfield for its size.