The air traffic control tower at the Sondrestrom Air Base in Kangerlussuaq with a decorative sign on the roof of the building behind it and a welcome sign with the names of the unit and the base commander in front of it appears in many vintage photographs from the 1960s and ’70s. Above, a 1972 photo by Henning Nyholm-Poulsen, taken on his tour of four Greenland air bases. Below, my photograph taken today, and one of members of the US Air Force in dress uniforms standing at attention to greet Prince Knud of Denmark in 1965. (Vintage photos from the collection of the Danish Arctic Institute.)

2021 photograph of the control tower and sign post by Helen Glazer.

Part of my Kangerlussuaq project involves seeking out the sites pictured in vintage photographs, especially from the 1940s through 1980s, and photographing them as they look today. The air traffic control tower with the sign welcoming visitors to what was then the American Sondrestrom Air Base figures in many old photos. The tower is a prominent landmark visible from almost everywhere in town. Several days ago I went there to see if I could find a vantage point that included the location of the former sign. Turns out, the yellow framework for the sign is still there, but the runway area from which I would be able to see both the tower and sign are enclosed by a chainlink fence topped with barbed wire and signs prohibiting entry. After asking around who could let me inside, I eventually made contact with the acting airport director, who opened the gate and drove me inside so I could take the picture above.

1965 photo of welcome sign at Sondrestrom Air Base, 1965 on the occasion of a visit from Danish Prince Knud.

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