View Full Version : Double bombthreat forces aircraft to land in Greenland

8th May 2002, 06:41
Two bombthreats against the same transatlantic flight made the captain decide to land at the nearest airport Sondre Stromfjord in Greenland.

Both bombthreats originated in the US.

8th May 2002, 07:04
Interesting place...have made several tech stops there, the last some years ago in February. Runway center 90 feet sanded and very slippery on the east end. After departing, mentioned same to an inbound USAF C141 and his reply was..."thats OK, we land here al lot, slippery not a problem...".
After making the last position report to the tower, the controller responded.....change to HF, and by the way the C141 slid off the east end".:eek:

8th May 2002, 09:05
FYI, flight involved was SAS937, CPH-SEA, 763.

160 on a beach

8th May 2002, 09:20
Coupla questions from Cabin Crew - if a 763 gets in there, is the piste long enough to get out again and go anywhere useful - secondly, presumably after the diversion, you'd want the a/c searched etc. which takes time and must put the crew tight on hours and result in requirement to take rest. Where in Sondestrom do you put a couple of hundred people for 11+ hours? - assume no hilton?

8th May 2002, 11:39
Tight Slot,
Plenty of asphalt runway at Sonde Strom: 9235 x 200 feet.
SFJ is a major hub for flights within Greenland and there's a modern hotel, quite large, on the civilian side of the airfield. USAF facilities on the other side have been cut back severely, I believe.
It's a scenic spot, where you can see reindeer, arctic hare, and off in the distance, the Inland Ice, plus interesting geology - I can think of worse diversions.

8th May 2002, 12:40
So can I ! All sounds rather pleasant, must go someday. Thanks hound.

8th May 2002, 14:46
So, why do they call it Greenland when I hear that it's all Ice? But then again I suppose that Iceland was already taken; can anyone explain this to a poor dumb country boy from Oz.

8th May 2002, 15:52
Why do they call it Australia when I hear it's full of convicts? I guess Wormwood Scrubbs was already taken :D

Hew Jampton
8th May 2002, 17:22
I think it's called Greenland because the ice looks green from a distance, or vague memories of history lessons makes me think it was because the bloke who named it was trying to con backers for further exploration by saying it was full of trees and grass.

When I techstopped there ages ago, the PX sold a very high strength Danish beer and they would only let you have one bottle each.

Relieved the bombthreat diversion ended safely. They deserved at least one of those beers!

8th May 2002, 17:50
I was told by an Icelander that Greenland was called that as PR spin by the early explorers who wanted to encourage settlers. Iceland was named by someone who wasn't so PR-savvy but more into telling it like it was.
I was also told that the first Icelanders who settled rather than visited were a bad lot thrown out of Norway for causing trouble. It wasn't until they raided Ireland and carried off more women that they began to be civilised and invent Parliament and the like.

A bit off track but possibly true......

9th May 2002, 03:21
Greenland was named by Erik the Red, an extra-cantankerous Viking, who was kicked out from Norway and Iceland in turn and made landfall in 981 in south Greenland, parts of which are very green and lush (after all, sheep are raised there). It's certainly greener than the north of Iceland which Erik had left but he did have an ulterior motive for choosing the name: he wanted to entice people there. After three years in Greenland, he returned in 986 with 25 ships and 700 people. Fourteen of the ships, with their cargo of humans and animals, arrived and stayed, founding the colonization of Greenland by Europeans.
Iceland was called Iceland probably because of the many small ice masses that break off the big valley glaciers in the southeast of the country and float around in the meltwater lakes at their snouts.
And no, the Greenland ice cap (the Inland Ice) does not look green from a distance. It's pure white and a magnificent sight, whether it's overcast or CAVU.

Semaphore Sam
9th May 2002, 06:30
Sondy is a fairly difficult airport, as I remember from my trips there in the 70's. The approach is down a fiord, you land to the east, and takeoff to the west, regardless of winds (I think I remember this right). A missed approach is a scary proposition, due to the sides of the fiord narrowing east of the airport. A C141A crashed there in the late 70's, when the Aircraft Commander thought he'd run out of runway, tried to go-around, got intimidated with the sight of the rocks & stalled. He had plenty of runway, but it's crowned east-west, & the illusion got him (As an aside, another C141A crashed within 3 hours of the Sondy crash, at Mildenhall...both were from McGuire AFB).

C124's (Globemasters) used to go there; from pieces in the MAC Flyer at the time, it was, with such underpowered aircraft, truly scary, especially in marginal wx.

BTW, is this airport used for ETOPS calculations?

9th May 2002, 08:02
If you watch "Sky Truckers" on Discovery Wings (it's bound to come around again soon!), there is some excellent footage of BeePee taking his Cargo Lion DC8 into this field.

They fly down the fjord and on short finals two-thirds of the runway disappears due to the "crown" (more like a hill!) described by Semaphore Sam.

9th May 2002, 08:40
This is a great thread. It starts off discussing a serious threat to civil aviation and then immediately turns into a tour brochure for Greenland. Fantastic. :D :D :D

Freak On A Leash
9th May 2002, 19:22
Another thing that is quite strange - at least here in Norway - is that whenever there is some kind of diversion regarding SAS it is never covered in the media (or at best just a small notice), but if for instance a small (read GA) plane overruns a runway in another part of the world, well then it suddenly makes the 9 o`clock news!:confused:
Does anybody have any input on this, or am I way off the mark? Just an observation from my part.

Romeo Tango
9th May 2002, 20:03
Last time I was there (in a Robin) Concorde was visiting, so the runway can't be too bad.

Romeo Tango

9th May 2002, 20:18
Are all the Greenland ETOPS diversion fields as green and pleasant as Sondestrom - I seem to recall a 767 pilot telling me of some of the diversion sites being rather short, narrow, poorly lit, minimal navaids and nowhere to put pax & crew if you managed to get in on a winters day

maybe this was beer talking (or listening for that matter)

9th May 2002, 22:11
Took a 747 freighter there last year, luckily in good weather. We self briefed using an AVT, and it had a procedure for a breakoff plus visual circuit to land to the west - I think Captain Fantastic might have made it, but I wouldn't fancy trying!

Niaga Dessip
9th May 2002, 22:18
Sondre Stromfjord was used by SAS in the fifties on the then new "polar" route to Los Angeles using DC7C's. With a light load and following wind they would make L.A. - Copenhagen non-stop, but Winnipeg and Sondre (summer only) would be regular refueling points as required. I was a small boy in 1957, but vividly remember the stunning bleakness of Sondre (no hotel in those days) as we stopped there. As usual at that time, we were able to stretch our legs during refueling. The only thing to buy other than simple refreshments in the "terminal building" was a collector's packet of Greenland stamps which I still have (Don't ask why!). And yes, there was a fox to be seen running along the runway as we took off. That was in June.
The return flight in September was scheduled to be non-stop but an engine problem over the borth Atlantic necessitated an emergency landing at Kevflavik as Sondre was closed for the winter.
Ernest Gann has written well about flying into Greenland during the War (Fate is the Hunter, I think).
Cheers. ND;)

9th May 2002, 22:30
"tight slot" any transatlantic, or international capt/crew is aware or all adequate/suitable airports along their routes...a bomb threat will most certaainly prompt a crew to land at the nearest one......cheers:) :) :)

Iron City
10th May 2002, 16:32
On a literary/ history note it is "Hostage to Fortune":

In Ernie Gann's autobiography he tells about hauling a load of electronics into Stromfjord (i believe) and the directions are to fly along until you get to the second or third fjord turn up the fjord and x miles up the airfield is on the left. When he asks about navaids Ernie is told they are very up to date, but they are in the back of the C-47 he is flying so they won't do him much good. And oh by the way, with his load there is no way to climb out of the fjord for a missed approach and please pick the right one, because the other fjords are all dead ends into glaciers and the navaids are very important and they don't want to lose the cargo.

Then there is the one about the Taj Mahal.....

edited for typos and to add Gann's biography title...really good book, but he told stories even better than writing them

10th May 2002, 16:41
Is this the place that either has or had a sign in the bar reading "Every piece of ice used is at least 1 million years old"(i.e. hacked from the icecap?) ?

10th May 2002, 17:15
The development of this thread is amazing..:)
Just to add to it... Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen also wrote a great book about Greenland ferry ops during WW2. (Don't know wether it is availible in english). Hairy stuff!


10th May 2002, 19:01
If I´m not mistaken, SFJ is a regular destination for SAS 76´s, so diverting is no sweat.

Hew Jampton
10th May 2002, 19:35
I think the Ernie Gann tale refers to Bluie West 1 (Narsassuaq?) which is a different place. Ref the change in this thread from the original theme, after expressing relief that it ended safely and admiration for an undoubtedly well done job by the crew, what else is left to say, beyond commenting on the geography?

Chuck Ellsworth
10th May 2002, 20:01
Now that we have everyone here , can anyone give me some info. on Fuel prices and availibility at Narsarsuak BGBW. Also where is the best place in Iceland for fuel.

I will be ferrying a PBY from England to the U.S.A. in June.

We burn 100LL.

I am having difficulty finding a contact in both places.


Cat Driver:

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

FE Hoppy
11th May 2002, 00:39
Got room for an L1011 fe with no clue of piston engines but lots of time on his hands? Sounds like a fun trip!!

11th May 2002, 02:32
Be careful at BGBW in June, Chuck, the weather can change in a heartbeat. And if you do the NDB letdown outside the fjord, be sure to turn LEFT at the sunken ship...turning right is a dead end.
Interesting place indeed, and well worth a visit.

11th May 2002, 15:20
Narsarsuaq Airport web site:

One strange thing (mistake?) is this line under Airport Information/Departures:
`Narsarsuaq is approved for landing only at nighttime, departure is prohibited after end of twilight.'
Don't know why they only want you to approach down the fjord at night! Must be a mistake.

I. M. Esperto
11th May 2002, 16:14
Some very gorgeous women are there. Like Iceland.;)

12th May 2002, 00:08
Daytime landings are certainly permissible at Narssarsuaq. I believe the English wording is faulty and what is meant is that, at night, landings are permitted but not takeoffs. I can't think why.

Chuck Ellsworth
12th May 2002, 01:53
Does anyone know the exchange rate for the Dkr to the USD?

100LL is listed as 12.50 Dkr per. litre

Need to know what that is in USD.


Cat Driver:

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

12th May 2002, 04:12
A good site for all currency conversion questions:


12th May 2002, 06:54
Nothing wrong with Sønder Strømfjord guyes. You can take off in both directions. Done it several time on B767. Only landed from the fjord. Bit of a hill top runway, so you don't see the stop end in the flare. But thats history now since SAS doesn't fly there EITHER. The route was politically cut to give the local airline, which by the way it full of retired SAS pilots, all traffic rights.

I vote for greenland to be an independant country...let them pay their own bills..

Now lets get back to the subject on hand....what happened with the bomb threat.

classic crew
12th May 2002, 17:49

Unfortunatly if you wait till you see the bows of the sunken ship you might end up in a hill. The sunken ship sunk about six years ago.

12th May 2002, 23:22
Hmmm, well and truly sunked...darn.

Flying Lawyer
13th May 2002, 22:37
And it wasn't exactly easy to see in 1989.
All the helpful blurb at the time stressed the importance of looking out for the sunken ship to make sure you were flying up the correct fiord to find Narsarsuaq airfield. (These were pre GPS days!) I was expecting to see the bows pointing skywards out of the water, or perhaps a funnel or two.
Just when we thought we must have picked the wrong fiord, we saw a curious shadow in the water. By looking very carefully, and using some imagination, we could just about make out a boat-shaped outline below the surface of the water.
A wonderful experience nonetheless - our single engine took us safely all the way from Thruxton to Texas.
Happy memories!

Alty Meter
14th May 2002, 20:23
I've never been in there, or low enough to see detail, but was told by an old ferry pilot they often have to avoid icebergs on final approach.
Is it true, or bar flying tales?

14th May 2002, 20:58
BTW remarks on here show my question referred to Bluie West . Question cancelled.

14th May 2002, 21:25
Been there as a pax in summer 1980 on a Wardair 747 YVR-FRA when a lady fell down from the winding stairs - presumably had one drink too many in the bar upstairs and had to have medical treatment immediately. Those were the days - a couple of whiskys, sitting on the upper deck sofa watching the Sondre Strom Fjord cliffs to the left and the right, no seat belts, 2 minutes prior to touch down. Unbelievable today...