Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, best known for his pioneering visit to the South Pole and sail through the Northwest Passage, disappeared in 1928 when his plane went down during a mission to rescue Italian explorer Umberto Nobile. Only a wing float and a fuel tank from his aircraft, the French twin-engine flying boat Latham 47, were recovered.
Today, more than 80 years later, the search for the aircraft begins again as New Zealander explorer Rob McCallum and his team set out to find the lost plane.
"This is one of Norway's most enduring mysteries," said McCallum. "[Amundsen] is perhaps the most famous Norwegian ever… many people are keen to write the last chapter." With new synthetic aperture sonar technology, an autonomous underwater vehicle, two underwater robots, and a good weather forecast, McCallum hopes his group will finally get that chance. The team, which includes Nicolay Jacobson, Amundsen's great nephew, will focus on a small search area about 20 miles northwest of Bear Island, near where Amendment's plane is thought to have gone down.
McCallum is confident that if the Latham is within this defined search area, it will be found. "The catch," McCallum said, "is that the search area has been defined by utilizing the only clues available." Those clues include the surfaced wing float and fuel tank, as well as a shiny object a fisherman almost reeled in in 1933 that may or may not have been an engine.
"There is no certainty the Latham lies within [the search area's] boundaries," McCallum said. "If the Latham is not within the search area, then it is unlikely ever to be found, simply because it could be anywhere."
The Berlin based production company Context TV, who is making a documentary about Amundsen, will document the expedition. Follow the expedition at searchforamundsen.com
Photograph via searchforamundsen.com
- Nat Geo Expeditions