Hønningstad C 5 polar

During the 1920's and 30's many people began to realise that aircraft were well-suited as a means of transport in Norway, particularly when it came to ambulance services. In the 1930's Sweden had organised its ambulance service to include, amongst other things, the state subsidisation of ambulance flights, and work was begun to achieve similar arrangements in Norway. In 1939, the Norwegian Red Cross began a fund-raising campaign to buy an aircraft for stationing at Skattøra near Tromsø. The Norwegian authorities promised to subsidise running costs when it came into operation.

Widerøes airline had carried out a number of airborne ambulance operations and thus gained experience with this type of task. In co-operation with engineer Birger Hønningstad, Viggo Widerøe submitted the draft for a Norwegian-built ambulance plane that had been specially designed for airborne ambulance operations in Norway. It was a single-engine aircraft accommodating 2 pilots, and 5 passengers or 2 stretchers. The plane was designed to use either wheels, skids or floats.

Construction and Testing: Completion date was set at summer 1940, but war broke out and work on the aircraft was subsequently brought to a halt. The half-finished plane was stored in a barn at Bogstad. Work on it was not resumed on a regular basis until 1947. The aircraft's wing span was 13.72 metres, slightly less than that of the Canadian "Norseman". Being an ambulance plane, the aircraft was given a much wider door to facilitate the loading and unloading of stretchers. The first engine it was fitted with was a 350 hp Wright Cyclone radial engine. The plane itself was covered with canvas, painted with the characteristic green of Widerøe's, and given the registration mark LN-11. On May 27, 1948, Captain Friis Baastad took off on the aircraft's first test flight, which lasted for 30 minutes and was problem-free. On August 11, the Hønningstad C-5 Polar was given the registration mark LN-DBW.

After certification and registration, the plane was flown for about 100 hours in all possible conditions. It met everyone's expectations and had excellent aerodynamic qualities. The engine, however, proved to be too weak and was replaced with a 560 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp.

The Aircraft in Use: At first, the C-5 Polar had floats fitted as landing gear, and was used for taxi flights and sightseeing along the Oslofjord and the southern coast of Norway. In autumn 1950, it was dismantled, packed in crates and, together with another plane, sent to Maudheim in the Antarctic on board the polar vessel "Norsel". Since 1949, John Giæver had led a Swedish/British/Norwegian research expedition there. Kaare Friis Baastad and Anders Jacobsen were pilots on the expedition, which reached Maudheim on January 6, 1951. One day, one of the wings was damaged during landing. After being repaired in Norway, the aircraft was used for scheduled flights between Bodø and Narvik in summer 1952, and later as a taxi and ambulance plane at Skattøra. In winter 1954-55 it was stationed in Narvik before being again relocated to Tromsø.

Widerøes Airline sold the plane to the Mjøsfly air company in Brummundal in 1958, who in turn sold it to a company called Varangerfly in Kirkenes in 1960. The following year, it crashed on a lake west of Kirkenes. The next owner was Oddvar Korsvold of the Norrønafly who took the plane to Oslo to have it rebuilt. The C5 Polar was once again ready for service in 1965, when it was taken over by the Nor-Wing airline in Tromsø and used for ambulance and taxi flights. Every summer, the plane was hired out to Varangerfly, who took over ownership of it in 1969. The two companies merged in 1970 and the following year they took over all ambulance flights in North Norway. The plane was stationed in Bodø and made its final flight on December 16 the same year, a few days after which the LN-DBW was overturned in a storm while moored in the harbour. When it was hoisted from the sea, major damage to the tailplane was inflicted, and with salt water in the steel tubing, a long career had finally been brought to a close.

Restoration: The C 5 Polar was bought by the Norwegian Aviation History Association (NFF) in 1982 and is now the property of the Norwegian Technical Museum. After many years of slow progress in the restoration work, the plane was loaned out to the Norwegian Aviation Museum, partially restored, and exhibited as-is at the opening of the Norwegian Aviation Centre in 1994. Restoration was later completed, with Dagbart Strand, former works manager at Widerøe's in Skattøra, in charge of the work. The floats were acquired in return for the restoration of the tail fin of a Bell P-39 carried out by Bodø Aviation History Association for the Finnish Air Force Museum in Tikkakoski, Finland. Norrønafly and the Norwegian Aviation History Association have also contributed towards enabling the museum to complete the restoration work.

HØYDE: 2,5 m
MAKS. VEKT: 1920 kg
MOTOR: 1 P&W R-985 AN-1, 450 Hk