Republic Seabees in Norway

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Republic Seabees LN-BDT (s/n 202)
Geiranger 1958
Photo: © Gaute Strøm via Fredrik Strøm
 

Norway is a country with a very long coast line splitted up by hundreds of scenic fjords, thousands of islands and thousands of inland lakes - and a very low  density of population.   It is therefore no surprise that aviation have played an important role in modern Norwegian communications history

Already in the 1920s and 1930s the first commercial aircraft operators were formed, most of them operating seaplanes.  When WW2 started several Norwegian military and civil pilots escaped to England to continue their resistance in the Allied air forces. When WW2 ended, the aviation scene was completely different.  During the war the technologies of aviation had made giant leaps and it was no longer a strange thought the John Doe could have his own airplane or could go by airplane when traveling.

Republic Seabees after assembly at Flatøy SPB, north of Bergen.
June 1947
Photo: © Arne Butteberg via NFF

Several small air taxi companies were formed by ex military pilot heroes from the war.  Norway has long traditions of shipping and after WW2 many ship owners grew an interest in air travel.  Soon almost every little airfield in Norway had a freshly started aircraft operator.  While some of them started their business with surplus military light airplanes from the war, such as Austers and Norseman, several operators found the new Seabee most interesting for the Norwegian coastline.

The famous Norwegian-American aviation pioneer Thor Solberg became the representative for Republic Seabee in Norway in 1946, and after heavy marketing during 1946 - 1947 his company imported 11 Seabees from the USA to Norway.  The first Seabee for Thor Solberg (s/n 202) was delivered at Republic on 13 January 1947.

Most of the new Seabees imported from the USA were shipped in crates from New York to Bergen, Norway.  From Bergen they were transported by barges to Flatøy SPB, north of Bergen, where they were assembled in the military hangars that Thor Solberg had hired from the Norwegian government.

LN-PAK (s/n 865)
Bergen June 1947
Photo: © via Jan Richard Liby

One of the early operators of the Seabee, Vestlandske Luftfartselskap AS (VLS), got their first 3 Seabees in May 1947 and officially started their operations from Sandviken SPB in Bergen on 23 June 1947.

 

VLS was formed in March 1947 after initiative from local politicians who wanted to improve the transportations to and from Bergen.  The location of a Bergen airport had been discussed for years, and was to be discussed for many more - until the final decision was made for Flesland in the early 1950s.  Bergen Airport Flesland opened in 1956.

Sandviken Seaplane Base
Bergen, Norway
Photo: © via Jan Richard Liby

Thor Solberg also wanted to operate aircraft commercially from Flatøy, but the local government had put restrictions on the number of aircraft operators operating in Bergen area.  They favored VLS and Thor Solberg was only allowed to operate as a flight school and air taxi operator. Solberg also founded a base at Sola Airport.  During 1948 Solberg sold most of his aircraft in Norway, including the Seabees and moved back to the USA.

Two working 'horses' of Norway - the Seabee and the row boat!
Photo: © via Jan Richard Liby

Logo: © Courtesy Kim Brantenberg

On the coast the Seabees would fly people, mail, supplies, etc. to habitated islands.  From inland lakes and rivers, the Seabees would fly delicious fish to the town markets.  The Seabees would also be the life saving ambulance transportation for emergencies in remote areas and to islands along the coast.

Seabee operators in Norway included Thor Solbergs Flyselskap AS, Wideröe's Flyveselskap AS, Vestlandske Luftfartselskap AS, Tröndelag Flyselskap, Sörfly AS, Mörefly AS.

 

Logo: Thanks to Kåre Aasebø

 

LN-PAK (s/n 865) at Vigra Airport, Ålesund.
Operated by Mørefly AS
Photo © via Per Erik Dalen

During the late 1940s and the 1950s the Republic Seabee became one of the most popular ambulance aircraft in Norway.  The nose door was very useful when taking patients in and out of the aircraft, especially on water.

Photo © via Per Erik Dalen

 

One of Mørefly's Seabees flying over Ålesund, on the North-west coast of Norway.  Mørefly operated two Seabees from their seaplane base at Sörnesest in Ålesund.

Photo © via Per Erik Dalen

 

LN-TVV (s/n 829)
Eggemoen 1968
Photo: © Gunnar Flak

Almost all of the Norwegian Seabees had minor accidents or crashed during their careers.  Most of the  accidents happened off airports.  This should come as no surprise, when considering the challenging environment they operated in and the difficult tasks they had.  In most accidents the occupants survived, but sadly three people died in two ambulance flight crashes.

LN-PAM (s/n 644)
Crashed on 22 January 1957
Photo: © via Jan Richard Liby

Two Seabees (s/n 645 and s/n 646) were imported to Norway from England to replace Seabees that had been lost in accidents.

The last Seabee in Norway, LN-IKK (s/n 270), was sold to Sweden summer 2003 and was cancelled from Norwegian Register on 17 September 2004.  In Sweden s/n 270 has been registered SE-AXR. Sadly 57 years of Norwegian Seabee history was over...

LN-PAI (s/n 864)
Crashed in Høyanger on 23 March 1948
Photo: © via Jan Richard Liby

Summer 2009 Mr. Per Otto Leth-Olsen, Jonsvatnet, told this webmaster that he was considering purchasing a Franklin-powered Seabee from the USA.  Autumn 2009 the great news was confirmed when registration LN-PLO was reserved for Seabee s/n 813 (N6547K).  December 2009 the Seabee finally arrived Norway, and is now hangared at Værnes Airport for restoration.  Per Otto's late dad, Petter Leth-Olsen, was the owner of Seabee LN-TVV (s/n 829) during the early 1960s!

N6547K sold to Norway 2009!

After a 2-year restoration by Per Otto, LN-PLO made her first flight in Norway on 08 October 2010. On 15 October Per Otto made the first landing on his "home" lake "Jonsvatnet" just outside Trondheim.

Click on S/N for individual stories!

LN-PLO

LN-PLO
Jonsvatnet, Trondheim, Norway
12 June 2012
Photo: © courtesy of Håkon Bonafede / "Vi menn"  Magazine
S Photo: Reg: S/N: Reg. Years: Remarks:
D LN-BDT LN-BDT 202 1957 - 1972 RAC delivery: 1947-01-13.
Ex LN-MAF, SE-BXA.  Scrapped.
F LN-IKK LN-IKK 270 1966 - 2004 RAC delivery: 1947-02-04.
Ex SE-AXR. To SE-AXR 2004.
D LN-MAF 202 1947 - 1950 RAC delivery: 1947-01-13.
To SE-BXA, LN-BDT. Scrapped.
F LN-MAL LN-MAL 953 1947 - 1950 RAC delivery: 1947-06-03.
To SE-BXB. Flying.
C LN-MAM 737 1947 - 1963 RAC delivery: 1947-06-04.
To OH-SBC.  Crashed 1962-06-15.
E LN-OAW LN-OAW 742 1947 - 1956 RAC delivery: 1947-05-23.
Ex XB-DEL.  To SE-CBW.  C of A expired 1963.
E LN-PAF LN-PAF 646 1947 - 1959 RAC delivery: 1947-04-22.
To SE-CHF. Crashed 1961-06-23.
D LN-PAH LN-PAH 647 1947 - 1966 RAC delivery: 1947-04-22.
Scrapped?
C LN-PAI LN-PAI 864 1947 - 1950 RAC delivery: 1947-05-23.
Crashed 1948-03-23.
E LN-PAK LN-PAK 865 1947 - 1962  RAC delivery: 1947-05-23.
To SE-CMM. Crashed 1964-08-15.
C LN-PAL LN-PAL 905 1947 - 1949 RAC delivery: 1947-06-03.
Crashed 1949-02-28.
C LN-PAM LN-PAM 644 1948 - 1957 RAC delivery: 1947-04-18.
Ex G-AJVP.  Crashed 1957-01-22.
C LN-PAP LN-PAP 828 1947 - 1951 RAC delivery: 1947-06-12.
Crashed 1951-08-01.
F LN-PLO LN-PLO 813 2009- Ex N6547K.
Imported by Per Otto Leth-Olsen.
C LN-RAB 910 1947 - 1948 RAC delivery: 1947-06-27.
Crashed 1947-09-08.
C LN-TAG LN-TAG 986 1948 - 1954 RAC delivery: 1947-11-13.
Crashed 1951-05-26.
C LN-TSN LN-TSN 645 1949 - 1956 RAC delivery: 1947-04-22.
Ex G-AJVO.  Crashed 1955-08-23
E LN-TSM LN-TSM 687 1958 - 1960 RAC delivery: 1947-04-29.
Ex N6437K.  To SE-COC. C of A expired 1969.
F LN-TVV LN-TVV 829 1953 - 1973
1974 - 1979
RAC delivery: 1947-05-28.
Ex SE-AXX. To SE-AXX.
  Crashed (C) / Scrapped/Destroyed (D)
  Confirmed flying (F)
  Unknown (U)/ Restoration (R) / Stored (S) / Exported (E).

LN-PAM (Photo: via Jan Richard Liby)

C of R # Date C of A # Date Reg # C/N Delivery RAC Remarks
149 1947-05-07 172 1947-05-07 LN-MAF 202 1947-01-13 Thor Solberg
157 1947-06-09 180 1947-06-09 LN-PAF 646 1947-04-22 E. S. Thofte & Co
160 1947-06-19 183 1947-06-19 LN-PAH 647 1947-04-22 Thor Solberg
165 1947-07-17 188 1947-07-17 LN-MAL 953 1947-06-03 Thor Solberg
166 1947-07-17 189 1947-07-17 LN-MAM 737 1947-06-04 Thor Solberg
167 1947-07-17 190 1947-07-17 LN-PAP 828 1947-06-12 Thor Solberg/Widerøe's
170 1947-07-18 193 1947-07-18 LN-PAI 864 1947-05-23 VLS
171 1947-07-18 194 1947-07-18 LN-PAK 865 1947-05-23 VLS
172 1947-07-18 195 1947-07-18 LN-PAL 905 1947-06-03 VLS
175 1947-07-26 199 1947-07-26 LN-RAB 910 1947-06-27 Trøndelag Flygeselskap AS
191 1947-10-09 215 1947-10-09 LN-OAW 742 1947-04-23 Sørfly AS
214 1948-02-27 238 1948-02-12 LN-TAG 986 1947-11-13 Trøndelag Flygeselskap AS
229 1948-06-09 253 1948-06-10 LN-PAM 644 1947-04-18 VLS (ex G-AJVP)
247 1949-05-31 272 1949-05-31 LN-TSN 645 1947-04-22 VLS (ex G-AJVO)
298 1953-08-07 328 1953-08-07 LN-TVV 829 1947-05-28 Ernst Hansen (ex SE-AXX)
466 1958-05-16 495 1958-05-16 LN-TSM 687 1947-04-29 Thor Solberg (ex N6437K)
853 1967-05-26 853 1967-05-26 LN-IKK 270 1947-02-14 Ernst Hansen (ex SE-AXR)
1399 1974-07-19 1399 1974-07-19 LN-TVV 829 1947-05-28 H. Grøtjorden (ex SE-AXX)
???? 2010-07-01 ???? 2010-07-01 LN-PLO 813 1947-05-13 P O Leth-Olsen (ex N6547K)

Current Seabees

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Updated 2016-11-21

© 2004-2016 Steinar Saevdal