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NORSEMAN
  Blue Line



The last flight of LN-PAB.
As told by Jan Antonsen, Flight Engineer LN-PAB.

We were in the town of Bodø when given the orders for our next mission. The pilots of LN-PAB, Knut Karlsen and Trygve Rydland were briefed on the mission but I had no information,- and I did not ask either! From Bodø we carried three passengers who did not talk to us at all. No presentation and no conversation. From Bodø we set course for the town of Narvik. There we spent the night. Because of lack of available rooms at the hotel I had to spend the night in the same quarters as the three passengers. Still not a word- not even after they had been drinking heavily all evening. Only sign of their identity was a label on one of their rucksacks; München it said.
I knew that this town had a school for spies. Could they be spies? But -  from what country? Judging by their looks they seemed to be from Finland. Having found out this I was feeling more at ease.
The next morning we took off from Narvik, flying northwards. Flying for several hours we finally did land at a lake somewhere at Finnmarksvidda. The lake was close to a road, but to this day I do not know the name of the lake. Our three silent passengers left the plane, - still no words. Taking off again we headed for the town of Kirkenes. The mayor of the town arranged for housing. There we spend the night.
September 3rd. we took off heading for the town of Vadsø. Here we had a new passenger, this time a Norwegian army lieutenant. From Vadsø we flew to Alta. Here all the cabin seating was removed and a lot of big crates were loaded into the Norseman. The content of the crates I do not know. Again we took off, this time eastwards, heading towards the border of Finland.
Approaching a big lake (later I learned that this was Gavnevann) we saw a small group of people close to the lake together with a tent.
The pilots first took a turn to check the lake before landing. It was in the evening and the sun was rather low on the horizon. This was maybe the reason for us not seeing the shoreline. The 2. pilot (Rydland) suddenly cried out “Knut, I see land ahead.” At the same moment we hit the shoreline. The Norseman came to rest upside down.

Because of the cargo I had no seat and I finally ended up in the back of the cabin together with all the crates and the lieutenant. He is still sitting in his seat but the seat is not fixed to the floor anymore!
Inside LN-PAB there is a lot of confusion! Because of our airplane being upside down we had problems in finding our way out. The lieutenant is freed from his seat. Now I can smell gasoline. We have to evacuate as soon as we can! I punched a big hole in one of the windows. Later I found out that this was the window in the aft door. In a great haste we evacuated the Norseman. The pilots were already out of the airplane. The Norseman did not catch fire and we had only minor cuts and bruises. The people we saw close to the shore on the other side of the lake when landing had witnessed the crash. An hour later they arrived at the crashsite.
The Norseman had one broken float, but the other one was in one piece. In this last float we had our survival gear. Here we also had a dinghy. We inflated the dinghy and soon we were heading for the camp on the other side of the lake.
Altogether 6 persons in that small dinghy! Luckily it all went well.
 

Approaching the other side of the lake we were met by two-three others. One of them I recognized as Tore Snefjellå, a famous resistance-fighter from the war. Spending a cold and long night in the tent we finally were rescued by a Catalina. Piloting the Catalina was another legend, Major Anonsen. Our dinghy was left to the people in the camp. They paddled off to the other end of the lake bringing some of the crates. This was the last we saw from these persons and we were soon in the air again, this time in a Catalina. The Catalina flew us to Skattøra located close to the town of Tromsø. We had the luck on our side being almost unhurt in the crash.
The pilots and myself travelled by SAS to Harstad (Ju52) and from Harstad we had a bus all the way down to Narvik.

This is the story of LN-PABs last flight. 

One year later:
The summer of 1953 I was still working for Widerøes, based in Narvik. One day I again am on my way to Gavnevann. This time I was flying the LN-PAE. Together with the captain Kaare Friis Baastad and two helpers we salvaged the propeller and the engine from LN-PAB. This operation was a relatively easy one. On our track back to Narvik we most possibly overfly Sweden at Torneträsk.
The engine and some smaller parts were sent by rail to Oslo. 

1994.
This summer I again visited Gavnevann and LN-PAB. The wreck of LN-PAB was almost cleaned out by visitors. The reason for my visit this time was being interviewed for a program on Norwegian TV. I told my story but I do not know if the story was ever shown on TV! I only think that Norwegian TV was eager to collect some special facts about the cold war in the north for their archives!
 

PS.
In the autumn of 1952 I heard in the Norwegian news about some spies captured by the Soviets. The spies had told about being flown close to the border of Finland in a
tiny Norwegian airplane. From there they had approached the Soviet Union.
The Norwegian authorities denied this message.