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5.4 Possible site in the vicinity of Bjørnøya

In this chapter, the working
group compares earlier
information with new scientific
facts, particularly in the fields
of meteorology and
oceanography, based on the

hypothesis that the accident
took place in the area around
Bjørnøya.

If we base our

assumptions on normal flight
operations until 7 p.m. on the
eveningof June 18, 1928, and
assume that the aircraft
maintained course for Bjørnøya
as planned, the accident must
have occurred north of 
72
°
30’N.

The ocean currents in
the area around Bjørnøya are
complicated since the location
is situated at the point of
intersection between the north-
asterly current between North
Norway and Bjørnøya in the
Barents Sea, and a branch
northward towards Svalbard.
Further west we find a cold,
southern current west of the
Greenland Sea. The location of
the pontoon at Torsvåg and the
fuel tank on the Haltenbanken,
together with the sheet of plywood
on Edgeøya island can be explained if
the accident took place here.

During the first few days after the accident, there were strong east-north-easterly winds in thearea. The fuel tank, empty and light,
would float very high on the surface of
the sea and be largely affected by
the wind. The pontoon, damaged and full of water, would for the most part,
follow the ocean currents. The sheet of plywood , if one is to give it
significance before the find has been corrobborated,  would almost
exclusively have followed the ocean currents.


In the light of such a hypothesis, the fuel tank would relatively quickly have drifted furthest west and into the homogenously southerly ocean currents. It  would probably have drifted far south before westerly winds moved it eastwards again to the Haltenbanken. By way of a combination of winds and currents, the pontoon would have followed a smaller curve west – south – west before stranding at Torsvåg. In addition to this, it is probable that the pontoon was torn off  at an early stage of the accident, and before the aircraft drifted with the wind and sank. The sheet of plywood has followed the ocean currents on its journey to Edgeøya.

 The cause of the accident itself may be very simple. Based on the fact that many accidents and near accidents are caused by inattentiveness in combination with other factors, it would not be inappropriate to submit a train of thought about the accident on this basis. Given the conditions mentioned earlier involving fatigue, difficult flying and daylight conditions combined with inattentiveness and/or distractions, the aircraft might easily have crashed into the sea.

 This train of thought does not in any way rule out an accident as a result of tehcnical malfunction, for instance, where the crew have made a more or less controlled emergency landing. An emergency landing would have been carried out in the same weather, daylight and ocean current conditions as described above. Irrespective of cause, the result of the landing was fatal. Based on the few objects that have been found and analyzed, it seems probable that the pontoon was torn off and punctured in the process. This may have happened when the aircraft’s left/port pontoon impacted the sea, or hit the crest of a wave, or by a combination of both.

 If we consider the fuel tank and the makeshift improvement (blocking) of the hole in the lid, it is natural to assume that the aircraft remained afloat while the crew attempted to stabilize it by replacing the missing pontoon with the fuel tank. Furthermore, it is possible that the aircraft was not able to take off again due to the damage and/or to reduced engine power. In such a situation, the crew would have attempted to manoeuvre towards Bjørnøya. The prevailing conditions with a damaged aircraft, strong winds and high seas would inevitably have led to the sinking of the aircraft.

The torn-off pontoon has most likely remained afloat in the position where it impacted the sea, and its course would therefore have a different starting point.

 The so far unidentified find (assumed to be part of an aircraft) made by the “Kvitholmen” north-west of Bjørnøya, supports the hypothesis that the accident took place here. We know of no other possible plane crashes in this area prior to 1933.

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