CFB Goose Bay: Wikis


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CFB Goose Bay
Goose Bay Airport
CFB Goose Bay.jpg
Airport type Military/Public
Owner Government of Canada
Operator DND
Goose Bay Airport Corporation
Location Goose Bay, Labrador
Elevation AMSL 160 ft / 49 m
Coordinates 53°19′09″N 060°25′33″W / 53.31917°N 60.42583°W / 53.31917; -60.42583 (CFB Goose Bay)Coordinates: 53°19′09″N 060°25′33″W / 53.31917°N 60.42583°W / 53.31917; -60.42583 (CFB Goose Bay)
Website 5 Wing Goose Bay
Direction Length Surface
ft m
08/26 11,051 3,368 Concrete with asphalt overlay
16/34 9,580 2,920 Concrete with asphalt overlay
Statistics (2008)
Aircraft Movements 32,065
Source: Canada Flight Supplement[1]
Movements from Statistics Canada.[2]
CFB Goose Bay Diagram

Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay (IATA: YYRICAO: CYYR) (also CFB Goose Bay), is a Canadian Forces Base located in the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.

CFB Goose Bay is presently operated as an air force base by Canadian Forces Air Command and is the site of NATO tactical flight training in Canada.

The base was initially a Royal Canadian Air Force station[3] and later a United States Air Force base, housing units of the Strategic Air Command[4] and Aerospace Defense Command. It was later home to permanent detachments of the Royal Air Force, the Luftwaffe, the Aeronautica Militare, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force, in addition to temporary deployments from several other NATO countries. The base is the home of 444 Combat Support Squadron and also serves as a forward operating base for NORAD CF-18 Hornet interceptors.

CFB Goose Bay's airfield is also used by civilian aircraft, with civilian operations at the base referring to the facility as Goose Bay Airport. The airport is classified as an airport of entry by NAV CANADA and is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency. CBSA officers at this airport currently can handle general aviation aircraft only, with no more than 15 passengers.[1]

CFB Goose Bay has been designated as an alternate emergency landing site for NASA space shuttle launches because of its strategic location along the launch trajectory and its long runways.


Second World War

During World War II Newfoundland was a dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. Fearing that a German invasion of Newfoundland could be used as a prelude to an attack on Canada, in 1940 Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and Newfoundland Governor Sir Humphrey T. Walwyn entered into negotiations regarding the strengthening of defensive positions along the Newfoundland coast. Notwithstanding that Newfoundland was a separate political entity, Canada built several strategic bases in Newfoundland and Labrador, including Goose Bay, to act as staging points in the eastern air route across the Atlantic via Greenland, Iceland, and the British Isles.

In the summer of 1941, an RCAF survey team determined a suitable location for an air base on a large low-lying plateau above the flood plain where the Churchill River emptied into Lake Melville. The westernmost portion of Lake Melville is Goose Bay, at the head of which is the harbour of Terrington Basin. These navigable waters, connected to the Atlantic Ocean through Groswater Bay, the outer portion of Hamilton Inlet, provided marine access and good anchorage for cargo ships which would service the base.

Construction soon followed the initial surveys and three (3) 7,000 foot runways were opened on 16 November 1941. The first military aircraft landed on 9 December. At this time, over 3,000 RCAF personnel were assigned to RCAF Station Goose Bay. The Permanent Joint Board on Defence allowed the United States Army Air Forces to build its own facilities on the south side of the base. Following the runway construction of 1941, workers continued to build other facilities on the base. By 1942 there were 1,700 USAAF personnel and 700 civilians posted to the base, making the area the largest population concentration in Labrador at the time. In 1943, RCAF Station Goose Bay was the busiest airport in the world and the neighbouring town of Happy Valley was created to house construction workers and civilian employees.

During the Second World War and the Cold War, the Royal Air Force used the RCAF facilities on the north side and was referred to as RAFU Goose Bay.

U.S. Air Force

Following the war, the RCAF and USAF maintained a presence at the base. On 31 March 1949 Newfoundland became Canada's tenth province when it entered Confederation. Renamed in 1947, the United States Air Force (USAF) remained at the base, naming its specific area Goose Air Force Base (Goose AFB). In response to the Cold War, it expanded its presence during the 1950s, and began to use Goose Bay as a staging facility for nuclear-armed bombers of the Strategic Air Command.

On 10 November 1950, a USAF B-50 bomber flying between Goose Bay and Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona was forced to jettison and detonate three unarmed nuclear bombs over the St. Lawrence River near St-Andre-de-Kamouraska, Quebec. As the plutonium cores of the bombs had been removed and stored at Goose Bay, the onboard bombs contained only the high explosive implosion cores, and were thus considered "unarmed". Encountering engine trouble, and with contemporary doctrine requiring that aircraft be lightened by dropping ordnance, the flight crew released the bombs. The weapons detonated at 2,500 feet over the river — apparently causing no damage. The episode was not disclosed by the Canadian government until 2000.[1]

In 1953, the USAF signed a 20-year lease agreement with Canada for its continued use of the air base. Goose Bay's strategic location as one of the closest North American air bases (by flying time) to the Soviet Union ensured it a prominent role, as fighter interceptor squadrons were posted at the base in a bid to ward off Soviet incursions of North American airspace.

In November 1954, a new air defence radar station was opened nearby. The USAF Melville Radar Station, or Melville Air Station per its USAF name, was attached to Pepperrell Air Force Base in St. John's and was operated as part of the Pinetree Line. Beginning in 1957, Goose Bay began to support the Strategic Air Command's 4082nd Strategic Wing. At this time, there were over 3,300 military and 700 civilians assigned to the U.S. side of the base. Goose Bay soon began to see B-47 Stratojet bombers and KC-97 aerial refuelling tankers, followed by KC-135 Stratotankers in 1960. It was also during the 1960s that Goose Bay began to see use by USAF B-52 Stratofortresses. Goose Bay also took over many of the functions provided by the former Ernest Harmon AFB in Stephenville which closed in 1966. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Goose Bay was home to over 12,000 USAF personnel and their families.

The 4082nd Strategic Wing deactivated and became the 95th Strategic Wing in 1966 and the fighter interceptor aircraft were relocated to other U.S. bases. During this time, there was a small RCAF presence on the north side of the base, however pending budget cuts in the late 1960s prior to unification saw the RCAF transfer its responsibilities for operation of the base to the Department of Transport in 1967.

On 1 February 1968 the RCAF was unified with the RCN and the Canadian Army to form the Canadian Forces. RCAF Station Goose Bay was renamed Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay (CFB Goose Bay).

1971 was a year of significant changes to the Canadian Forces operations at Goose Bay. The air base operations on the north side of the base (CFB Goose Bay) were closed, and the Canadian and RAF operations consolidated on the south side with the USAF. That same year, the USAF gave operation of the nearby Melville Radar Station over to the Canadian Forces, which renamed the facility Canadian Forces Station Goose Bay (CFS Goose Bay).

In 1973, the USAF's 20-year lease agreement was extended for 6 months to 1 July 1973. On that date, all USAF facilities were transferred to the Government of Canada, with the provision that the USAF be permitted to use Goose Bay for 3 more years.

In 1974, the town of Happy Valley merged with the military community of Goose Bay to form the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

On 1 July 1976 the USAF terminated its permanent presence at Goose Bay with the disbanding of the 95th Strategic Wing. Several USAF personnel were left at Goose Bay to handle the requirements of USAF aircraft that stopped periodically.

Canadian Forces Air Command

5 Wing Goose Bay
Luftwaffe Tornados at CFB Goose Bay
Royal Air Force Panavia Tornados at CFB Goose Bay
US Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle at CFB Goose Bay
CH-135 Twin Huey 135127 from Base Rescue Goose Bay in the later SAR scheme used after 1986/88
Avro Vulcan XL361 on display at CFB Goose Bay

The former U.S. facilities were redesignated CFB Goose Bay (the second time this facility name has been used). The value of the airfield and facilities built and improved by the USAF since 1953 and transferred to Canada were estimated in excess of $250 million (USD).

The Canadian Forces continued to use Goose Bay for staging interceptor aircraft, however Canadian Forces Air Command concentrated on purchasing the new CF-18 interceptor in the late 1970s and early 1980s. CF-18s for eastern Canada were to be based at CFB Bagotville in Quebec, thus the future was looking bleak for both CFB Goose Bay and CFB Chatham.

In 1983, a NASA Boeing 747 transport aircraft carrying the Space Shuttle Enterprise landed at CFB Goose Bay to refuel on its way to a European tour where the shuttle was then displayed in France and the United Kingdom. This was the first time that a U.S. space shuttle ever "landed" outside the United States.

In response to lessons learned from the Vietnam War and the growing sophistication of Soviet anti-aircraft radar and surface-to-air missile technology being deployed in Europe, NATO allies began looking at new doctrines in the 1970s-1980s which mandated low-level flight to evade detection. CFB Goose Bay's location in Labrador, with a population of around 30,000 and area measuring 294,000 km², made it an ideal location for low-level flight training. Labrador's sparse settlement and a local topography similar to parts of the Soviet Union, in addition to proximity to European NATO nations, "sealed the deal" which saw CFB Goose Bay grow to become the primary low-level tactical training area for several NATO air forces during the 1980s.

The increased low-level flights by fighter aircraft was not without serious controversy as the Innu Nation protested these operations vociferously, claiming that the noise of aircraft travelling at supersonic speeds in close proximity to the ground ("nap of the earth flying") was adversely affecting wildlife, namely caribou, and was a nuisance to their way of life on their traditional lands. Many protests evolved into dangerous activities, including trespassing into the low-level flying ranges (at detriment of the safety of protesters), and even to shooting hunting rifles at the fighter aircraft. The protests, while having died down with changes in operating areas and raising of flight altitudes, have never really disappeared.

During the 1980s-1990s, CFB Goose Bay hosted permanent detachments from the Royal Air Force, Luftwaffe, Royal Netherlands Air Force, and the Aeronautica Militare, in addition to temporary deployments from several other NATO countries. Goose Bay was a very attractive training facility for these air forces in light of the high population concentration in their countries, as well as numerous laws preventing low-level flying. Many of the ranges surrounding CFB Goose Bay are larger than some European countries.

In 1988, the Pinetree Line radar site at CFS Goose Bay was closed. The permanent RNAF detachment left CFB Goose Bay in the 1990s, although temporary training postings have been held since.

On 11 September 2001, CFB Goose Bay hosted seven trans-Atlantic commercial airliners which were diverted to land as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon, following the closure of North American airspace as a result of terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. It was also the first Canadian airport to receive diverted aircraft.

In 2004 the RAF announced its intent to close the permanent RAF detachment, effective 31 March 2005. The German and Italian air forces have agreements signed to use the base until 2006, however these have not been renewed. The base continues in its role as a low-level tactical training facility and as a forward deployment location for Canadian Forces Air Command, although the total complement of Canadian Forces personnel numbers less than 100.

Base Rescue Flight and 444 Combat Support Squadron

To provide rescue and range support to the jet aircraft operating from Goose Bay the Canadian Forces provided a Base Rescue Flight consisting of three CH-135 Twin Huey helicopters. In 1993 the Base Rescue Flight was re-badged 444 Combat Support Squadron and continued to operate the same fleet of three helicopters. In 1996 the CH-135s were replaced with three CH-146 Griffon helicopters.[5][6]

Ballistic Missile Defence

Labradorian politicians such as Liberal Senator Bill Rompkey have advocated using CFB Goose Bay as a site for a missile defense radar system being developed by the United States Department of Defense. Executives from defense contractor Raytheon have surveyed CFB Goose Bay as a suitable location for deploying such a radar installation.[2].

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations
Air Canada Jazz Halifax, St. John's [begins 1 May]
Air Labrador Quebec City, Sept-Îles, Wabush
CHC Helicopter charter
Cougar Helicopters charter
Provincial Airlines Blanc-Sablon, Churchill Falls, Deer Lake, Montreal, Sept-Îles, St Anthony, St John's, Wabush
Universal Helicopters charter


See also


External links

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