A Summer in Greenland (Part 1: Getting there)

In 2019, I spent the summer in Greenland at EastGRIP on the permanent ice sheet. This is a overview of the deployment. The Remote Sensing Center where I worked received funding from the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) and NSF to develop ice and snow radars. Our objective was to perform fine resolution ice layer measurements with radar systems mounted on a surface vehicle. At the end of the summer, our project deliverables were: 4 systems built and operated including the first known ice-layer survey in the L-band (1-2 GHz). This was a unique and enjoyable opportunity.

I chose to enter Greenland via the 109th Airlift Wing based out of Stratton AFB in Scotia, New York. This is in upstate New York near Albany colocated with KSCH.

The airport was undergoing runway maintenance which impacted the flight operations by requiring us to use the shorter runway with less fuel onboard.

The aircraft assigned to our chalk was 73-3300, an LC-130H “Skier”. Notice that the aircraft has the newer 8 blade propeller.

The shortened runway necessitated a refueling stop at Bagotville, Quebec in Canada. The RCAF and Canadian Customs greeted us for this short stop.

From here we continued northeast across Canada and the Atlantic Ocean.

There were even icebergs visible in the water.

Otherwise, our flight traveled with our hardware and equipment. The C-130 is a noisy aircraft, I was very thankful for my noise canceling headsets. Thanks Bose!

We pressed on over the Atlantic. And finally the mountains of Greenland come into view. Beautiful, but totally isolated.

The island of Greenland has two major population centers along the western coast: Nuuk and Kangerlussuaq. The EastGRIP location is on the ice sheet in central Greenland, but with a base camp at Kangerlussuaq.

Kangerlussuaq (“Big Fjord”), Greenland is a town of 500 with a 9220′ ex-USAF runway. Air Greenland provides commercial air connections with Denmark and other areas of Greenland.

I had arrived to the land of the midnight sun.

In the next part, we fly to the ice sheet.