Ah yes, a ‘good’ day in Kef, back in the day…

Winter flying out of there was always ‘interesting’… Especially since your alternate was 2 hours away in Scotland…IF it was open. Made for some long days, but we did what we had to.

And now the kids flying the P-8s are going to get to ‘enjoy’ the challenges of Kef, and possibly Adak, once again. At least the P-8 can refuel if necessary, assuming there is a tanker that can meet them somewhere over the north Atlantic.


TBT… — 35 Comments

  1. As interesting as the Navy’s main engineering spaces can be, we never, ever, saw snow in the enginerooms.

    We did have to break through ice to get away from the pier once at Fort Schuyler NY.

  2. Pic taken in the 2 hrs of twilight that passes for day, I guess

    Looked at the map of central and eastern Atlantic Ocean, distances involved, and what I know of Scottish weather. Oh, “golly”. Yeah, that assumes a tanker can get there, and the weather will allow transfer. Bingo fuel on a sliding scale? (Shiver)

    Bless all y’all for what you did, and bless the kids coming in, for what they shall receive.

  3. Never saw anything like that at my duty stations, NAS Key West, Roosy Roads, Pensacola.

  4. Just looking at that picture instantly made the frostnip damage in my hands ache. I’m going to go snuggle with a hot cup of coffee now, and put on another layer.

  5. Thoughts of Adak flashed through my head when I saw the picture, until I noticed the light poles, etc. None of that stuff was easy, back then, and it probably isn’t any better now. May the Lord bless all who have that duty now.

  6. Tom- It was COLD!

    Ray- LOL

    John- If you had, THAT would have been interesting…

    PK/Rev- Yep! Bingo fuel went from 8000lbs to 21000lbs out of Kef (and Adak) for that reason. And yes, I pray for those kids to stay safe.

    Steve- Shaddap… LOL

    Dot- Snerk

    • On they same occasion where we broke ice to get away from the pier, the sea suction to the fire pump and the entire inlet side of both the main engine condenser and the steam turbine generator condenser were sheathed with ice.
      I’ve never seen that before or since.

  7. I hate the cold. I hate jumping into cold water.

    Ditching in arctic water isn’t a workable option.

  8. How about Shemya Island??? The Shemya “air terminal” boasts a wind sock made of part of a TELEPHONE POLE! I was on my way out to the LORAN station on Attu to do teletype repairs when I was in the CG. The weather closed in and we had to set down at Shemya. The plane dropped us off and headed back to Kodiak. After a week of watching mangy, inbred arctic foxes run around, the CG decided to make another run at Attu. We were in the air terminal. The fog was so thick, we couldn’t see twenty feet out the windows. The Air Force guy was on the radio with the CG C-130 (Red Tail Airlines). He was telling us the plane was going to “fly over” due to weather. Then the pilot of the red tail radioed that he was on final approach. The AF guy said “Holy sh*t! He’s gonna try it!!!” A minute or two later we heard the engines roar by in the fog. “Ah. He pulled up.” Then we heard the engines braking. A few minutes after that, the black nose of the plane poked out of the fog in front of us. What had to be the shortest pilot in the military climbed down from the plane, smiled, and said “Whew! That was a CLOSE one!” …CG pilots are CRAZY! …And Shemya SUCKS!!!

  9. I got to visit a P=3 in Jacksonville, FL. I asked if the P-3 could refuel in air. The pilot shuddered. I guess 18 hours on that plane was more than long enough!

  10. When it was time to reenlist, my detailer offered me Keflavik. After having spent six months deployed to Adak, I decided three years in Adak senior was a “hell no”. It helped me make the decision to leave the Navy. By the way, leaving the Navy was the second hardest decision I ever made. I’ve missed it ever since, but it was the right decision.

  11. All- Thanks, and yes, Shemya is a piece of work… Remote/hardship tour, 12 months only. And yes, you Coasties were/are crazy! C-130 pilots ARE allowed to shoot a missed approach in Kodiak, nobody else is, because you’re required to turn BELOW the surrounding terrain!

    Posted from my iPhone.

    • Indeed… Barometer Mountain… right past the end of the runway, due north, Three Sisters, due east, and Old Woman, due west… Not much room for error for the big birds…

  12. Had a new guy come aboard the Constellation CV-64 in San Diego. He had just come from Adak. I believe his tour there… changed him. At least, I hope he wasn’t that way when he started. 🙂

  13. Robert- Who knows… If he kept looking for the women behind the trees in the forest, well…

  14. The beer was cold. And the memory of Kef faded away with the 5 month “arduous” deployments to Bermuda and Rota.

  15. Spent June of 73 to june of 74 with the 57th fighter Interceptor Squadron at Keflavik. There wasnt an AF welding shop so we worked out of the navy Airframe shop. I had to make more cultural adjustments dealing with the navy than with the Icelanders and I did spend time in the community. Lower ranks had a lot of restrictions on interacting with the community but as an E-5 I spent a lot of time with Iclandic friends and it made the tour much more enjoyable.

  16. Navy- True… 🙂 Chicken in the Dirt ring a bell?

    Tsgt- 57th FIS was an ‘interesting’ bunch when I was up there…LOL

  17. Garlic chicken at Venta la Rufana. Heard of it but after my time. Lived around the corner in the late 70s.

  18. My dad was stationed there late ’42 to early Nov ’43, heard a number of stories of what that was like. He spent 5 years in the AAC.

  19. Nylon- Kudos to him! Living in Quonset huts was NOT fun. They still had a couple for ‘overflow’ billeting in the 70s-80s. Stayed out there ONCE, showers flooded/froze every morning, and you needed triple blankets to sleep through the night.

  20. E.K. Gann wrote about flying into Greenland and Iceland in WW2.
    Yikes! Flying up a twisting fiord, one chance to land, no go around in that box canyon, in the weather, low on fuel. Pick the wrong one out of dozens to fly up and you are done.

    The list of the dead in the intro to “Fate is the Hunter” is a tight spaced, two column tribute to commercial airline crews, prior to the 1960’s- 74 per page, four and a half pages. I had no idea.

  21. I’d go back to Iceland in a hot minute. Sitting in KEF for 48 hours waiting out weather does suck though.

  22. Spent a lotta time pulling alert and scrambling AWACS to observe bears flying towards the east coast.

    2 weeks at a whack, we would pull 1 hour response alert.

    Cold and windy begins to describe it, but I somehow found some nice Navy women to keep my young self warm and occupied.

    Don’t know why us USAF crewdawgs on TDY had such an appeal, but to me, Kef was “target rich” with warm lasses of the naval persuasion.

    Fond memories … happy times.