2. About the Project

2.1     Historical background of the “Latham” incident

Roald Amundsen is one of Norway’s best known polar explorers and his deeds
were of major sigificance to Norwegian self-esteem and national identity. In
1926, Amundsen was leader of the first airship expedition to cross the North
Pole. Umberto Nobile built and flew the airship “Norway” that was used on the
expedition. Afterwards, a conflict arose between the Italian Umberto Nobile and
the Norwegian Roald Amundsen.

The conflict put an end to their relationship. In 1928, when Nobile’s own
expedition on the airship “Italia” met with misforutne north of Svalbard,
Amundsen took the first step towards taking part in a search operation.

The French Navy placed an aircraft, the “Latham 47” and its crew at his disposal,
and at 3.55 p.m. on June 18, 1928, Roald Amundsen, Leif Dietrichson and the
french crew of four set off from Tromsø. Three hours later, at 6.55 p.m., the last
signals were picked up from the plane. It was assumed that it had crashed into
the sea in the vicinity of Bjørnøya, and that all of those on board had perished.
Only two pieces of wreckage from the aircraft were found, both of them along the
coast of Norway. What had happened, is still unclear.

In 2003, it is 75 years since the Latham incident. The Norwegian Aviation
Museum wishes to draw attention to the fact that not only did we lose our world
famous polar explorer, Roald Amundsen and the pilot Leif Dietrichson, but at the
same time, France lost four of her best and bravest airmen.

   Today, we have more information and greater scientific knowledge than we had
in 1928. Prior to the commemoration of the 75th anniversary, the Norwegian
Aviation Museum has sought to shed light on information old and new about the
accident, in order that we might come closer to establishing the cause, and ifpossible identify an area where a search for the wreckage might be made.

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