Sunday, February 13, 2011
Airbus A380 Arctic Takeoff
This Airbus A380 was in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada in February 2007 for cold weather testing.
Iqaluit was founded in 1942 as an American airbase, geographically located to provide a stop-over and refueling site for short range fighter aircraft being ferried across the Atlantic to support the war effort in Europe. Iqaluit's first permanent inhabitant was Nakasuk, an Inuk guide who helped American Air Force planners to choose a site with a large flat area suitable for a landing strip. Long regarded as a campsite and fishing spot by the Inuit, the place chosen had traditionally been named Iqaluit – "place of many fish" in Inuktitut – but Canadian and American authorities named it Frobisher Bay, after the name of the body of water it abuts.
The Hudson's Bay Company moved its south Baffin operations to the neighbouring valley of Niaqunngut, officially called Apex, in 1949 to take advantage of the airfield. The population of Frobisher Bay increased rapidly during the construction of the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW line, a system of radar stations, see North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)) in the mid-1950s. Hundreds of construction workers, military personnel, and administrative staff moved into the community, and several hundred Inuit followed to take advantage of the access to medical care and jobs the base provided. In 1957, 489 of the town's 1,200 residents were reported to be Inuit. After 1959, the Canadian government established permanent services at Frobisher Bay, including full-time doctors, a school and social services. The Inuit population grew rapidly in response, as the government encouraged Inuit to settle permanently in communities with government services.
The American military left Iqaluit in 1963, as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) diminished the strategic value of the DEW line and Arctic airbases, but Frobisher Bay remained the government's administrative and logistical centre for much of the eastern Arctic. In 1964, the first elections were held for a community council, and in 1979 for the first mayor. The founding of the Gordon Robertson Educational Centre, now Inuksuk High School, in the early 1970s at Iqaluit confirmed the government's commitment to the community as an administrative centre. At the time of its founding, it was the sole high school operating in more than one-seventh of Canadian territory.
Average January temperatures range from about −40 to 0 °C (−40 to +32 °F), and winter temperatures can drop below −50 °C (−58 °F) over large parts of the Iqaluit. Average July temperatures range from about −10 to +10 °C (14 to 50 °F), with some land areas occasionally exceeding 30 °C (86 °F) in summer.