Sondrestrom 1997






From: 109th Airlift Wing NYANG
To: Firebirds
Subject: Update from Kangerlussuaq (Sondrestrom) Greenland
Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 1997, 07:06:30 -0100

Good Morning, Everybody. I'm the 109th Airlift Wing mission commander this week here in good old Sondy. My very first trip on active duty, flying C-130E aircraft out of McGuire AFB, New Jersey, was to Thule AB, Greenland, via Sondrestrom AB, Greenland was in early 1966, thirty-one years ago. Hard to believe! The base has changed very much. Of course, the USAF military departed years ago, and none of the clubs are open--either the NCO (Caribou Club) or the Officers Club (Fox and Hare).

This week we are flying supply missions to the highest elevation on the ice cap called Summit (10,600 feet). The American research camp is called GISP (Greenland Ice Sheet Program), and there is another research camp farther north of GISP called North GRIP (Greenland Ice Program - European camp). We are also utilizing DYE II (Sea Bass) for our Airborne Radar Approach (ARA), ski landing and ski take-off training for our pilots and navigators. DYE III (Sob Story) is vacant and not utilized anymore. Our crews have the opportunity to go into DYE II and look around for souvenirs.

This week there was a retired American Airlines pilot, now a ferry pilot, with over 25,000 hours of flying time ferrying a twin across the Greenland Ice Cap (destination San Antonio, TX), on Monday, 14 July 97. He was reported overdue by the Sondrestrom Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), and our aircrews were trying to reach him on the radios. We could hear him, but he couldn't hear us. We eventually heard his ELT and pinpointed his location with our new GPS/INS Self-contained Navigation System (SCNS) and our new and improved radar equipment. The weather on the cap was too bad to rescue him the first day. Greenland Air helicopters and Danish Navy helicopters also tried to locate him using our coordinates but were unable find his position due to bad weather. The next day on Tuesday, 15 July 97, one our crews heard his "Mayday" call on the 121.5 VHF emergency frequency, and circled overhead of his location but could not land due to crevasses, aqua velva water pools, weather, and poor snow conditions. His position was plotted approximately ninety miles from Sondrestrom. He was finally rescued Tuesday evening by a Danish Navy helicopter. The rescued pilot had only a minor bruise on his chin and had spent about thirty hours in the aircraft with only a dinner mint and a small bottle of liquor. He stopped over to our quarters last night to thank all of us and indicated in his 25,000+ hours of flying he had never even scratched the paint on a aircraft. But, within the last three months he had ditched an aircraft in the Pacific Ocean, crashed landed an aircraft in Brazil, and now had crash landed on the ice cap. He indicated that he thought the ice cap below him was a cloud deck and that he contacted the snow at 150 knots and 100 feet/minute rate of descent, bounced into the air, and put it down once again. His name is Bill Bell from Bedford, TX , and tonight we will "Blue Nose" him at the "Raven's Roost IV." Another exciting day for the 109th AW on duty in Sondrestrom, Greenland.

Gentlemen, I'll close for now, but will attach an Arctic Orientation Test with some interesting terms that we give our new crewmembers to keep a lot of the traditions from the 17th Tactical Airlift Squadron (The Firebirds) and the 109th Tactical Airlift Group (now 109th Airlift Wing - The Raven Gang) alive. If any of you care to add to the attached list, please do, and E-Mail me. So long from Greenland.

Thomas F. Noel, Lt. Col., NYANG
109th Airlift Wing
Stratton ANGB, Scotia, NY 12302-9756
COMM: (518) 344-2598/2616
DSN: 974-9598/9616
FAX: COMM: (518) 344-2304 DSN: 974-9304

Attachment Converted: "C:\Arcexam1.doc"







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