Friday, September 4, 2009

The Search for Amundsen Continues

Much in the same way that Americans get swept up in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Erhart, so too do Norwegians when the topic turns to Roald Amundsen.

Amundsen, best known for his polar expeditions, racked up an unprecedented list of firsts as an explorer. He led the first Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole between 1910 and 1912. He was also the first person to reach both the North Pole and is known as the first to traverse the Northwest Passage.

Then in June of 1928, while flying a rescue mission, Amundsen and his crew of five disappeared somewhere over the Barents Sea. The rescue mission was for the crew of the airship, Italia, who had crashed on their own polar expedition.

The disappearance was major news at the time, not just in Norway but around the world. Amundsen, the man who braved uncharted territories as a pastime, seemed to have vanished into thin air. For months the Norwegian navy searched and searched for their national hero, but to no avail. In the end, the search was called off in September of 1928, having found nothing more than a wing-float and bottom gasoline tank from Amundesn's plane near the Tromsø coast.

Now, 81 years later, the search is back on and is garnering a lot of attention in Norway. Right now, as I type this, Norwegian naval vessels are searching a new location in the Barents Sea. For the past 10 days two vessels have been scouring 36 square nautical miles of seabed close to the island of Bjørnøya in a bid to locate the remains of Amundsen’s seaplane.

This new expedition has the opportunity to put to rest the various theories and postulations on how the plane crashed and why. Finally, a nation may be able to lay one of its greatest heroes to rest. I'll try and find more info on their search results and post them as I can.

No comments: