Air Force Bases

Sondrestrom Air Base Greenland

Location: Located 60 miles north of Arctic Circle, 90 miles from the northeast end of Sondre Stromfjord, 12 miles west-northwest of Ravneklippen, and 70 miles west of Holsteinsborg, Greenland.

Origin of current name: Named after Sondre Stromfjord on the west coast of Greenland.

Date current name was assigned to base: January 10, 1952

Previous Names: Bluie West 8, 20 Oct 1941; Sondrestromfjord AAB, 1945; Sondrestromfjord AB, 25 Oct 1947.

Date Established: October 20, 1941

Date Occupied: September 26, 1942

Construction Began: October 7, 1941

Base Units: 417th Base HQ & AB Sq, 26 Sep 1942; 1385th AAF BU, 1 Oct 1945; 1004th AB Sq (rdsgd 1234th AB Sq, 1 Oct 1948), 1 Jun 1948; Greenland Base Comd, 21 Jun 1949-9 Oct 1950. 6621st AB Sq, 20 Jul 1951; 6621st AB Gp, 25 Sep 1955; 4084th AB Gp, 1 Apr 1957; 4684th AB Gp, 1 Jul 1960

Changes in Capability: Ferrying Command, U.S. Army Air Corps, laid plans for establishing field on west coast of Greenland to facilitate movement of aircraft across North Atlantic, to and from Britain; Capt Bernt Balchen, famed arctic flyer, arrived with contingent of men at head of Sondre Stromfjord to prepare initial airstrip and facilities, 7 Oct 1941; base (Bluie West 8, or BW-8) accommodated a weather reporting station and support organizations for North Atlantic route, Ferrying Command; (BW-8 was second base constructed by the. U.S. in Greenland, the base at Narsarssuak (BW-1) being the first); radio station at BW-8 began operations while construction workers completed additional living quarters and related facilities, 20 Oct 1941; first small base hospital opened 10 Dec 1941; winter weather hampered base construction and operations each year between November and late May; winter runways were prepared at BW-8 by Feb 1942, and first aircraft landed en route to North America 7 Mar 1942; base transmitted regular weather reports to Ferrying Command throughout World War II, and supported BOLERO operations, B-17 missions of weather and pathfinder aircraft, the latter supported also by the radio range station on Simiutak (Cruncher) Island, near BW-1; BW-8 boasted a 5,000-by 300-foot asphalt runway by early 1943 and a large, heated steel hangar by Aug 1943; weather forecasting operations ceased as base prepared to phase down 10 May 1945; base shipped excess food stocks to BW-1, sending its surplus equipment and materiel by ship to the U.S.; changed from auxiliary airfield to emergency field 15 Aug 1945, and BW-1 assumed control of Sondrestrom as an outpost of Greenland Base Command 23 Aug 1945; engineer aviation units arrived at BW-8 to repair, restore, and resurface the runway, to construct water lines and central power plant, and to resurface base roads in Jun 1947; further work winterized shops and living quarters in 1948-1949; base assumed standby status Jun 1950 and returned to control of Danish government on 9 Oct 1950; an air base detachment from BW-1 arrived early in Mar 1951 to rehabilitate base and furnish support for Operation BLUE JAY, the development of Thule AB; U.S. units again manned Sondrestrom on 20 Jul 1951, operational control transferred from the Danish government in Sep 1951; contract workers constructed a new hangar, installed runway lights, rehabilitated barracks, built a ground control installation and modern refueling facilities, strengthened the runway, and built taxiways, hardstands, fuel and petroleum storage areas, airmen's barracks, a consolidated mess hall, and bachelor officers' quarters between 1952 and 1954; base supported the Army-Air Force airborne operation WIND CHILL in 1954; became a SAC base, providing refueling, maintenance, billeting, messing and services for aircrews and passengers of SAC aircraft, those of other USAF commands, and of Danish and other Allied nations, including occasionally the Scandinavian Airways System (SAS), 1 Apr 1957; Danske-ESSO began refueling and servicing of commercial aircraft and refueling of military aircraft at the terminal, 1 Dec 1959; base facilities enlarged and improved to support SAC reflex operations 1957-1959; became part of North American Air Defense Command network under ADC 1 Jul 1960, but, upon the inactivation of ADC, 1 Dec 1979, Sondrestrom again became a SAC installation.

Changes in Status: Under construction, 15 Jan-20 Oct 1941; active auxiliary airfield and weather reporting station, 20 Oct 1941; emergency landing field, 15 Aug 1945; standby status, Jun 1 base being controlled Jun 1950-Sep 1951 by Danish g USAF AB, 20 Jul 1951-.

Base was Decommissioned on September 30, 1992


Great photos and information about this base can be found at this site: