Some 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, on the misnamed island of Greenland, the men and women of the 821st Air Base Group run missile-warning and space-surveillance systems that are vital to our national security.
Off-hours, their outdoor recreation is limited to the occasional dogsled run to the nearby glaciers. Indoors, their fitness facilities now include the 85-degree water of their Endless Pool®.
You could probably stay outside for hours just staring at the moon over Dundas Mountain ... assuming it wasn't -31 degrees with the wind chill, of course. The airmen (that term includes women in Air Force lingo) depend on Thule's Fitness and Sports Center for fitness and recreation; activities like swimming in the Endless Pool also help them to maintain a degree of normalcy during their three-month stints in the wilds of Greenland. Why the cramped photo? Space is tight at Thule Air Force Base. The converted hangar that serves as their fitness facility includes basketball and racquetball courts, bowling lanes, and a complete weight-training facility. Fortunately, the modular design of the Endless Pools' Elite model permits installation almost anywhere ... even in a room with just a few spare feet on two sides of this corner installation. This is what one looks like in the military-issue storm gear needed for protection in Greenland ... in springtime. Endless Pools sent our own Steve Stumpfrock to Thule AFB to assemble their Elite model. With this getup as their standard early-spring look, the service members and civilians at the base certainly appreciate the opportunity to enjoy warm water in their swimsuits! The Elite Endless Pool features custom-designed propellers in the side benches/return channels to feed water to the swim current generator (center top of the pool). The underwater (soon) treadmill allows running and jogging in a low-impact aquatic environment. That lets the team at Thule AFB stay fit without the unnecessary pounding of dry-land activity. At Thule AFB, the door latches (top) were specially designed to keep the service members and civilians safe when a polar bear wanders in: it needs to be lifted, but polar bears only paw downwards. That's even more necessary now that they have an Endless Pool, if Gus (bottom) is any indication; he loved the Endless Pools Fastlane® installed in his habitat at the Central Park Zoo!