Ikateq was an American air base in south east Greenland, about 13 kms (8 miles) from Tasiilaq, although it can only be reached from there by boat. Due to its remote location and isolation, living conditions are extremely harsh. The air force base was abandoned however the buildings are frequented sometimes by hunters, adventure travellers and fishermen looking to find shelter from the harsh Greenland weather.
The United States Army Air Forces operated a small airfield called Bluie East Two at Ikateq which was in operation between 1942 and 1947. The United States took responsibility of Greenland’s defence in 1941 after Denmark was taken over by the German forces in World War II. They began scouting locations suitable enough to build runways of 5,000 feet with clear approaches. The search was undertaken from RAF Reykjavik in Iceland by USAAF Captain Elliott Roosevelt.
It was first decided to establish a radio and weather reporting station in Angmagssalik. Supplies were sent from Reykjavik on board the USCGC North Star and a merchant ship, Lake Ormoc. They arrived in November 1941. From there, dog teams scouted the area and Ikateq, which was 57 kilometres (31 miles) northeast of Angmagssalik, was chosen despite the harsh weather conditions.
Construction began with supplies arriving by flotilla led by USCGC Comanche. The airport was completed in 1943. Bluie East Two never saw a lot of usage and Keflavik in Iceland remained a more prominent area for the US forces in this part of the Atlantic. The extreme weather conditions made operations at the airfield difficult throughout the year. It mainly served as a support facility for North Atlantic operations.
At the end of the war, the airfield at Ikateq declined in importance and it was abandoned by the USA in 1947. Denmark had little interest in keeping the airfield in operation and locals began taking anything the Americans had left behind. An airport was eventually built in Kulusuk near Angmagssalik.
Ikateq suffered as a result of being exposed, with no hills or mountains nearby to protect it from wind or biting cold. Many houses took extra measures to stay attached to the ground including weights attached to ropes thrown over the roofs.
Ikateq is now a popular destination for Greenland’s many adventure tourists and tours are available in the Summer months.