Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Knut Haughland, last surviving member of the Kon-Tiki expedition, died on Christmas day. In anyone else's life the 1947 expedition - six men, a large balsa log raft, Callao, Peru to the Marquesas in 101 days - would have been the greatest chapter. But Haughland was also a storied commando in the Norwegian resistance, with many violent exploits and escapes. On one occasion the Gestapo trapped him in a maternity hospital where he had installed a secret radio. He shot his way out.
Haughland on left, with Bengt Danielsson.

The Kon-Tiki expedition, organized by Thor Heyerdahl, sought to prove that the South Pacific could have been populated by prehistoric migrations from South America. Averaging 47 miles a day, the six men drifted and sailed in the Equatorial Current and finally reached land over a thundering reef in the Marquesas. They had traveled 4300 nautical miles all in pretty fair order, considering. Heyerdahl made the expedition famous in his book by the same name.

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