The hunt for Roald Amundsens plane
An expidition are currently making the last preparations before they make an effort to find the remains of the plane Roald Amundsen, the famous Norwegian explorer, used on the journey that killed him – searching for Umberto Nobile and the airship Italia.
The search area is the sea floor northwest of Bjørnøya, and the plan is to comb the bottom for traces of his flying boat, a Latham 47. The plane was made of wood and sail, and is inevetably lost to the Barents sea forever, but the V-shaped, 18 cylinder engine should still be possible to find.
Marine officer Helge Telle on the vessel KNM Tyr is certain to find the engine, if the search area they have picked out is the right one. They are using an underwater mine robot, the Hugin 1000 MR, to sweep the bottom with a resolution of 2×2 cm.
Amundsen, the pilot Leif Dietrichson and four french crew members were lost on the 18th of June 1928 on their way to Svalbard. The only debris that was found was a fuel tank and a floating device from the airplane. These have tool marks, indicating that somebody survived the crash – but they were ill equipped for a landing in the ocean. They did have, however, gear to survive on the ice – but they were never found.
Roald Amundsen is one of the truly great Norwegian explorers, and during his adventures reached both the north and south pole and through the Northwest Passage. I hope this expedition can shed some light on the faith of him and his men, to close the Amundsen chapter in our historic annals.