First flights to Svalbard Apr 24, 2021 16:53:57 GMT -5
Post by Deleted on Apr 24, 2021 16:53:57 GMT -5
Svalbard had since its settlement in the early 20th century been entirely isolated from the world during winter, when ice closed its ports. The first airstrip was constructed in Adventdalen, near Longyearbyen, by the German Luftwaffe during World War II. It was not used immediately after the war; during the summer the archipelago was served by ships but was completely isolated from November to May.
In the early 1950s, the Norwegian Air Force started postal flights using a Catalina aircraft bought from Vingtor Luftveier of Oslo in Semptember 1948.
The plane departed from Tromsø Skattøra seplane base and dropped postal parcels and mail at six Norwegian settlements and outposts in Svalbard, namely
Bjørnøya radio station (aka Bear Island)
Isfjord Radio station
Hopen radio station
and then flew back to Tromso via Bjørnøya.
However, the aircraft never landed until 9 February 1959, when a resident had become seriously ill and needed to be flown to mainland Norway for treatment. The mining company Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani cleared the runway at Adventsdalen and the 14-hour flight and landing were successful.
The PBY-5 Vingtor Luftveier bought by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (a repaint for ALPHA Catalina)
The Catalina RNoAF leaving Tromso Skattøra
reaching radio station on Bear Island
while it flies over the frame of a German Junkers Ju-88 crashed there
on the way to Isfjord
and reaching its radio station
dropping postal mail over Longyearbyen, not far away from the actual Svalbard airport
While the Catalina was suitable for postal flights, it was not suitable as a permanent solution for transporting passengers and freight, mainly due to its small size. Store Norske contacted the domestic airline Braathens SAFE for a regular service. A Douglas DC-4 flew the first trial flight in April 1959, with 54 passengers from Bardufoss Airport. Store Norske had cleared a 5,910 by 130 ft runway for the aircraft. The next flight occurred in 1962, followed by another in 1963 and two in 1964.
taking off from Bardufoss Airport
leaving Norwegian mainland
and landed at Adventdalen.