last flight of LN-PAB.
As told by
Jan Antonsen, Flight Engineer LN-PAB.
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
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.
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
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.
is the story of LN-PABs last flight.
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.
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
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
The Norwegian authorities denied this message.