End of an Era: Kon-Tiki

Kon-Tiki on the Pacific. Inset: LI2B's two radio operators Knut Haugland, left, and Torstein Raaby working on one of Kon-Tiki's 10-watt radios.

It is the end of an era, as the last Kon-Tiki voyager has died. 

One of the most powerful adventures I ever discovered — the story that got me interested in ham radio — was the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition by Thor Heyerdahl and colleagues Knut Haugland, Herman Watzinger, Bengt Danielsson, Torstein Raaby and Erik Hesselberg.

Growing up in New Zealand, Kon-Tiki was legendary among us kids, but it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I discovered the ham radio connection. The romance of ocean swells and radio waves from LI2B as the balsawood raft moved west across the Pacific has always remained with me.

On Christmas Day 2009, Knut Haugland, the last surviving crew member, passed away at the age of 92. Thank you Knut, Torstein, visionary Thor and the others who made the 101-day voyage and brought me and so many others along with you. What a journey.

Read about the extraordinary Knut Haugland and Kon-Tiki

More about Kon Tiki



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