Riiser-Larsen Yalmar

(07.06.1890 - 03.06.1965)


Norwegian aviator and polar explorer, one of the creators of the modern Norwegian Air Force.

Born in Oslo, at the age of 19 he entered the Naval Academy in Bergen, where he graduated as an officer. Since 1915, he served in the Navy, in the First World War did not participate, since Norway declared its neutrality. After the war, Riiser-Larsen was appointed head of the enterprise for the construction of aircraft for naval aviation, two years later he was replaced by another officer in this post. Riiser-Larsen in 1921 passed the exam for a pilot's license and went to work in the War Department, at the same time from time to time performing commercial flights.

In 1925  the already famous Roald Amundsen invited Riiser-Larsen, as one of the most experienced Norwegian pilots, to take part in a flight to the North Pole. In the expedition of Amundsen and Ellsworth Rieser-Larsen piloted one of the two Dornier Val planes. The expedition started on May 21 from Kongsfjord in Svalbard. Three hours after departure, the Riser-Larsen aircraft had problems and it was necessary to land. Riiser-Larsen landed the plane without complications, but the second plane was damaged. It happened at 87°44′N 10°30′W in 136 nautical miles from the pole. For 26 days  six members of the expedition repaired the planes and cleared the runway in the ice, until June 15 they failed to take off. Seven hours later  both aircraft returned to Svalbard. Despite the fact that the goal - the North Pole - was not achieved, the flight of Amundsen and Ellsworth became a sensation, as no aircraft had previously reached such a latitude and did not fly in such exceptional weather conditions.

The following year  Riiser-Larsen joined the expedition on the airship "Norway", becoming the navigator. Amundsen and Italian airship designer Umberto Nobile led the flight. On May 11  the airship left Svalbard, and in less than a day, at 1:30 am, on May 12, reached the pole. On the morning of May 14, Norway landed in Alaska. The flight of “Norway” was the first undisputed successful attempt to reach the North Pole, as the statements of all previous applicants, Cook, Peary and Byrd, were questioned. When in 1928 the airship "Italy" under the command of Nobile crashed in the Arctic, Riser-Larsen was involved in the search for the missing.


Riser-Larsen and Amundsen


Between 1929 and 1931 Rieser-Larsen participated in two Antarctic expeditions funded by the Norwegian shipowner and whaleman Lars Christensen (Christensen organized a number of expeditions from 1927 to 1936, which resulted in many valuable discoveries, and Norway declared territorial claims for some territories in the South Atlantic and Antarctica, in particular Bouvet Island and Peter I Island). The main research was carried out by the ship “Norway”, Riiser-Larsen together with another pilot Finn Lutzov-Holm carried out aerial photography from a hydroplane.

In 1933  reductions in the military touched Rieser-Larsen, but he was immediately offered a job in the civilian airline Det Norske Luftfartsselska (DNL). Soon he headed the company. After the occupation of Norway by the Third Reich, he was forced to emigrate to London, and from there to North America, where Rieser-Larsen coordinated military and naval aviation activities and created a training camp for Norwegian pilots. During this time, Riser-Larsen was promoted to admirals and vice marshals. When the Royal Norwegian Air Force was established on the basis of the existing units in 1944, Rieser-Larsen led them. However, he had conflicts with many pilots. In the end, in 1946, he was forced to resign.

Riiser-Larsen is back in the DNL. During this period  the formation of a new airline Scandinavian Airlines System, which combined the resources of three national air carriers of the Scandinavian countries. In SAS, Riiser-Larsen was responsible for intercontinental routes, his main merit is to organize communication with North America and the Far East as the shortest route through the North Pole.

In 1958  Riiser-Larsen published the book of memoirs Femti År for Kongen (“Fifty Years for the King”).

He died in Copenhagen. He was buried in Oslo at the cemetery "Our Savior".

Cape on Laponia Peninsula, Gustav V Land, Northeastern Land Island, Svalbard. The coordinates are 80° 20'N    19° 40'E.


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