Santa Cruz Air Force Base
|Santa Cruz Air Force Base
Base Aérea de Santa Cruz
South door of the hangar built for the Zeppelin at Santa Cruz Air Force Base
|IATA: SNZ – ICAO: SBSC|
|Airport type||Military: Air Force Base|
|Operator||Brazilian Air Force|
|Serves||Rio de Janeiro|
|Commander||Ten. Cel. Av. Luiz Guilherme Silveira de Medeiros|
|Elevation AMSL||3 m / 10 ft|
Sources: Brazilian Air Force
The base was originally called Bartolomeu de Gusmão Airport and it was constructed to handle the operations with the rigid airships Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg. Between 1931 and 1937, Deutsche Luft Hansa had regular flights between Germany and Brazil, with Rio de Janeiro as final stop. For this reason Luftschiffbau Zeppelin decided to construct a dedicated facility and move its operations from Campo dos Afonsos Airport. The airport was inaugurated on 26 December 1936. The whole complex consisted of an airfield, the hangar, a hydrogen factory and a branch-line connecting the complex to the main railway line to downtown Rio de Janeiro 54 km away among other structures. Some of the buildings are still in use, particularly the hangar which was built to accommodate the rigid airships. Because it is the only original surviving hangar built for rigid airships in the world, on 14 March 1999, it was listed as a National Heritage Site.
As a consequence to the Hindenburg disaster on 6 May 1937 at Lakehurst Air Naval Station in New Jersey, USA, the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin requested to the Brazilian Government on 17 June 1937 the suspension of services. Since then no more civil operations were handled at this facility.
On 12 February 1942, six months before Brazil declaring war against the Axis, the airport became a base of the Brazilian Air Force. The name of the facility was changed to Santa Cruz Air Force Base on 16 January 1943.
On 3 May 1982 a British Avro Vulcan bomber was intercepted by the aircraft of the 1° Grupo de Aviação de Caça (1ºGAvCa) based at Santa Cruz. The Vulcan had finished the Operation Black Buck 6 during the Falklands War and was returning to Ascension Island when it suffered technical problems. It was intercepted upon entering Brazilian airspace and made to land at the Galeão Air Force Base. The Brazilian aircraft flew back to Santa Cruz having successfully accomplished the first interception mission in their history.
The following units are based at Santa Cruz Air Force Base:
Subordinated to the command of the 2nd Air Force (II FAe), which is dedicated to Search and Rescue, Rotorary Wings, and Maritime Patrol:
- 4th Squadron of the 7th Aviation Group (4º/7ºGAv), the Cardeal Squadron, using P-95A (Embraer EMB 111 Bandeirante Patrulha) aircraft for Maritime Patrol Missions.
Subordinated to the command of the 3rd Air Force (III FAe), which is dedicated to Reconnaissance, Attack, and Combat:
- 1st Group of Combat Aviation (1ºGAvCa), comprising the 1°/1°GAvCa – Jambock Squadron and the 2°/1°GAvCa – Pif-paf Squadron, both using the Northrop F-5E Tiger II supersponic fighter aircraft. They are currently being replaced by the F-5EM, an up-graded version of the F-5E made by Embraer in partnership with the Israeli Elbit. The 1st GAvCa also operates one AT-27 (Embraer EMB 312 Tucano) light attack aircraft. All aircraft are for attack missions.
- 1st Squadron of the 16th Aviation Group (1º/16ºGAv), the Adelphi Squadron, using the A-1A and A-1B (AMX International AMX) aircraft for attack, combat, and reconnaissance missions. In 1989 the Adelphi Squadron was the first unit of FAB to receive the A-1.
Subordinated to the command of the Department of Airspace Control (DECEA), which is dedicated to the control of the Brazilian Airspace:
- 1st Squadron of the 1st Communications and Control Group (1º/1ºGCC), the Profeta Squadron, using radars and equipment for air defense.
The base is located 54 km from Rio de Janeiro downtown in the district of Santa Cruz.
- Brazilian Air Force Official Website
- Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica (1990). História Geral da Aeronáutica Brasileira: de 1921 às vésperas da criação do Ministério da Aeronáutica (in Portuguese) 2. Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro: Itatiaia and Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica. pp. 164–166.
- Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica (1990). História Geral da Aeronáutica Brasileira: de 1921 às vésperas da criação do Ministério da Aeronáutica (in Portuguese) 2. Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro: Itatiaia and Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica. pp. 384–392.
- Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica (1991). História Geral da Aeronáutica Brasileira: da criação do Ministério da Aeronáutica ao final da Segunda Guerra Mundial (in Portuguese) 3. Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro: Villa Rica Editoras Reunidas. p. 272.
- "Operation Black Buck". Mongsoft. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- "4º/7ºGAv – Esquadrão Cardeal" (in Portuguese). Spotter. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- "1ºGAvCa – Esquadrões Jambock e Pif-paf" (in Portuguese). Spotter. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- "1º/16ºGAv – Esquadrão Adelphi" (in Portuguese). Spotter. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- Airport information for SBSC at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
- Airport information for SBSC at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective Oct. 2006).
- Current weather for SBSC at NOAA/NWS
- Accident history for SBSC at Aviation Safety Network
- Photos of the F-5E used by Jambock and Pif-paf Squadrons at spotters.com.br
- Photos of the A-1A used by Adelphi Squadron at spotters.com.br
- Photos of the P-95A used by Cardeal Squadron at spotters.com.br