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Roald Amundsen's House
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Pioneers of the Skies

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Early Aviation

The first decades of the 20th Century were a time of aviation pioneering. Various types of manned balloons, airships and aircraft were tested. The duration of flights increased steadily, as did the peril for pilots and crews. 

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Pushing the Boundaries

Explorers like Roald Amundsen saw this new technology as an opportunity to travel faster and to reach further into undiscovered territories. In 1914, Amundsen attained his private pilot’s licence and purchased an aeroplane, but the First World War postponed his plans for polar flight. 

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Amundsen’s Unsuccessful Air-Trials

Flying was a very risky business in the early years of aviation. Amundsen and members of his crew crashed four times and made several emergency landings. One crewmember was even killed by lightning. In the end, flight took the life of Amundsen and five others in the flying boat Latham 47. 

Amundsen’s Unsuccessful Air-Trials:

  • 1909 Capt. Ole Engelstad of the Fram expedition killed by lightning while testing a man-carrying kite.
  • 1914 Farman Longhorn crashed when Amundsen took his private pilot’s license in Gardermoen, Norway.
  • 1922 Junkers F 13, Elisabeth, crashed near Cleveland, Ohio.
  • 1923 Curtiss Oriole, Kristine, crashed near the West Siberia Archipelago.
  • 1923 Junkers JL 6, Elisabeth: Unsuccessful trial flight in Wainwright, Alaska.
  • 1925 Dornier-Wal N24: Emergency landing 250 km short of the North Pole – ultimately destroyed and left behind.
  • 1925 Dornier-Wal N25: Emergency landing 250 km short of the North Pole – managed to return to Svalbard.
  • 1928 Latham 47: Presumed crashed, Amundsen and his crew most likely perished somewhere near Svalbard.
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88° North

In 1925, Amundsen almost reached the North Pole with two flying boats – N24 and N25. However, they had to make an emergency landing on the ice 250 km from the Pole. Amundsen and his crew barely survived after 30 days of trying to clear a runway on the pack ice before finally managing to take off.