September 23, 1917 - December 25, 2009
He fought the Nazis. He braved the Pacific. And he hated being called a hero.
Haugland was the last survivor of the six-man Kon-Tiki crew. He had met Heyerdahl in
1944 at a special forces training camp in England.
Adventure stories rarely come more epic than that of Knut Haugland, the Norwegian
resistance fighter who died on Christmas Day at the age of 92. His exploits were
already the stuff of legend even before he joined Thor Heyerdahl's crew aboard his
balsa wood raft, Kon-Tiki. Together they not only conquered the vast expanse of the
Pacific Ocean using only the most primitive of technologies – but in doing so, they
helped rejuvenate the crushed spirit of human endeavour in the bleak aftermath of the
Second World War.
Haugland's death, following that of Heyerdahl himself in 2002, marks the passing of
the last of the six-man crew that set sail from Callao in Peru in April 1947, bound
several thousand nautical miles for the far-flung islands of Polynesia based on little
more than an anthropological hunch. That journey set a new benchmark for modern
adventurers, spawning an international best-selling book published in 66 languages
and an Oscar-winning film in which Haugland played himself. It also helped popularise
Heyerdahl's passionately held belief that the great oceans had been highways and not
barriers for the movement of ancient seafaring civilisations.
"Kon-Tiki" was the name of a wooden raft used by six Scandinavian scientists, led by
Thor Heyerdahl, to make a 101-day journey from South America to the Polynesian
Islands. The purpose of the expedition was to prove Heyerdal's theory that the
Polynesian Islands were populated from the east---specifically Peru---rather than from
the west (Asia)as had been the theory for hundreds of years. Heyerdahl made a study
of the winds and tides in the Pacific, and by simulating conditions as closely as
possible to those he theorized the Peruvians encountered, set out on the voyage.
Last survivor of the Kon-Tiki crew dies Christmas Day
by Roland Hansen
|Delta Films - Movie News
with a local focus
Sept. 29, 1947: Members of the Kon-Tiki expedition crew waves from the
homemade balsa wood and bamboo raft upon arrival in San Francisco, Ca., from
the South Pacific. From left are, Thor Heyerdahl, leader of expedition; Bengt
Danielson; Erik Hesselberg; Torstein Raaby; Herman Watzinger, second in
command and designer of the raft; and Knut Magne Haugland.