The Big Picture: Operation Blue Jay
111.TV.227 – Pituffik Space Base – This episode of The Big Picture focuses on the secret construction of an air base near Thule, Greenland in the early 1950s. Built during the Cold War, the base was to provide the U.S. a home for long-range bombers closer to the Soviet Union and China. Staged at Norfolk, Virginia, Operation Blue Jay moved over $125 million worth of equipment by ship to the remote Greenland site. Once the convoy arrived through ice-packed waters, soldiers began working on port facilities and shelter. Working expeditiously during the short summer season to avoid facing temperatures of fifty below, the Corps of Engineers built an expansive air base nine-hundred miles north of the Artic Circle.
Thule (pronounced too-lee) Air Base is the most northern U.S. military outpost at 76 degrees north latitude. The facility was operated by the U.S. Air Force from 1951 until operations transferred to the U.S. Space Force in 2019. On 6 April 2022, Thule Air Base was renamed Pituffik (pronounced bee-do-FEEK) Space Base. The name Pituffik was suggested by the governments of Greenland and Denmark to acknowledge the traditional Greenlandic/Indigenous name where the base is located. Pituffik was also the name of the village that was displaced in the 1950s for the construction of the base.
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