The story doesn't start till 1941and is partly American

Kangerlussuaq - or Søndre Strømfjord, Sondrestrom Air Base and code name Bluie West 8, as the place has often been better known - was founded on October 7th 1941, under the supervision of Colonel B. Balchen of the United States Air Force (USAF). Earlier that year, on April 9th 1941, Greenland's security was entrusted to the USA by the Danish Ambassador, Henrik Kauffmann, in Washington, as Denmark itself was unable to ensure Greenland's security and supplies to the country under the German occupation of Denmark. The USA set up a number of military bases and weather stations in Greenland during the Second World War, including the military base Bluie West 8 at Kangerlussuaq. During the war, Bluie West 8 soon became one of the most important stopover sites for flying missions between the USA and its allies in Europe, owing to the fine flying conditions for which Kangerlussuaq became known.




he gateway to Greenland

After the war, in 1950, Bluie West 8 was handed back to Denmark, and on April 27th 1951 the base reverted to the USA when Denmark and the USA signed a new defence agreement, whereby the Americans opened Bluie West 8 up under the name of Sondrestrom Air Base.

In the period between November 15th 1954 and October 1st 1965, SAS also began making use of Søndre Strømfjord for stopovers on the route between Copenhagen and Los Angeles.

The non-stop route linking Copenhagen and Søndre Strømfjord had thus been created and, besides being an American military base, the airport became the gateway to Greenland. In 1960, the civil aspect of the base was established with a transit hotel as annex.

During the post-war period, which saw the onset of the cold war between the two world powers, the USA and the USSR, DEW (Distant Early Warning) radar stations were set up by the Americans from 1958 until far into the 1970s: the DYE-2 and DYE-3 stations on the inland ice, DYE-1 at Sisimiut and DYE-4 at Kulusuk. Sondrestrom's main mission since that time has been to supply the DEW stations, with both Greenlandair and USAF collaborating on the supply work.

When the disarmament between the USA and the USSR started in 1989, the Pentagon decided to close down the DEW stations for the period 1990-91, soon followed by the decision to shut down the American base. On September 30th 1992, USAF left Søndre Strømfjord and on October 1st 1992, the entire airport came under Greenland Home Rule and was given its first Greenlandic name, Kangerlussuaq, as its official title. Kangerlussuaq Airport is operated by the Airport Authority under Greenland's Home Rule (Mittarfeqarfiit).

A peaceful place

Until the Second World War, the Kangerlussuaq area had never been populated, though the fjord has always been the Greenlanders' summer sealing and fishing grounds. Ninety kilometers from the town of Kangerlussuaq lies an altogether unique part of this fjord: Paradise Valley, which today is a Grade 1 scheduled area. Here, there are many ancient monuments such as tent rings, kitchen middens and burial sites from the whaling expeditions of bygone ages. The valley is extremely lush, with tall mountains and an incredibly lovely meandering char stream called Arnangargup Kuua. Large numbers of reindeer and musk ox can be seen along the stream and in the valley.

Today, with a population of approx. 475, Kangerlussuaq Airport is civil area, under Sisimiut municipality . The resident population is directly or indirectly employed in connection with airport operations, and  Kangerlussuaq has both a kindergarten and a school. There are some 50 pupils aged from 6 to 13, complete with their own recreational facilities, and some 45 infants in the nursery section. Their free time is devoted to the wealth of natural experiences which the area offers and the recreational facilities available to local residents, tourists, conference participants and airport guests alike.



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This page was update 15-09-01