Narsarsuaq Airport | Greenland
Narsarsuaq Airport was built in 1941, a time when planes required much shorter runways to come to complete stops. Now that we’re flying much bigger jets, much faster all over the globe, the danger’s increased at Narsarsuaq in Greenland. Not that professional pilots are incapable of landing on the airstrip. Plenty of them do, with estimates of around 25,000 people flying into and out of Narsarsuaq annually, which speaks volumes about the talents of the pilots landing there. Narsarsuaq is also the only international airport in Greenland, which means there literally aren’t any other options in the country. But, to us, that lack of other options makes the fjords and water surrounding the airport all the more daunting. We’ll either land on the airstrip or in the fjords. Statistically it’s the airstrip, but paranoia still has us suspicious of the other option.
I RAN ACROSS THIS SLIDE SHOW TODAY AND IT BROUGHT BACK A MEMORY I FEEL COMPELLED TO SHARE.
In December, 1943 I had just finished training with nine other airmen in Avon Park, Florida as a crew for B-17 bombers.
We traveled by train to Savannah, Georgia where we were given a brand new B-17G bomber and ordered to fly the airplane to England where we would join the 8th Air Force.
In the first week of January we took off and landed for refueling in Bangor, Maine. A blizzard grounded us at the airport in Bangor for two days when we were finally able to take off.
Another blizzard forced us to land in Labrador were we spend another two days waiting for the weather to clear.
Finally we took off and flew to Bluie West One Airport (now known as Narsarsuaq Airport in Greenland). The approach to the airport was up a fiord. As we neared the airport we found a large iceberg in the water at the end of the only runway. I thank God that we had a pilot who was a former tank captain in the regular Army and so he managed to fly almost touching the iceberg before he made a sharp righthand turn and immediately touched down on the very short runway which sloped up from the waters edge at a 10 degree slope. I consider it a ‘miracle’ landing.
The next morning we took-off down the sloping runway with the iceberg still sitting in the fiord at the end of the runway. We prayed as the bomber gained momentum down the down-sloping runway racing toward the iceberg. At the very last moment the pilot (who was a former tank commander) pulled up on the yoke of the bomber and we cleared the top of the iceberg by a matter of a few feet. It was another ‘miracle.’
God is good!!!!!!!!
We continued on to Iceland and then after a few more days grounded there by a blizzard, we flew to Scotland. On that last flight the temperature inside the bomber was minus 50 degrees, needless to say, even with heavy flight suits we were COLD!!!