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Last Kon-Tiki Crew Member Dies

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 27th, 2009


Illustration by Coopertoons.

On April 18, 2002, Thor Heyerdahl, 87, the adventurous Norwegian anthropologist, world-traveler, explorer, filmmaker, and author died of cancer in Italy, after a long illness. Cryptozoologically, he had several encounters through his life and maintained an interest in the field. For example, Heyerdahl had an intriguing encounter while on his honeymoon in 1937, were he sighted an unidentified mysterious wingless bird on the South Pacific island of Hiva-Oa, which he relates in his 1974 book Fatu-Hiva, Back to Nature. In 1980, cryptozoologist Michel Raynal interviewed Heyerdahl about the incident, reconfirming the significance of the sighting.

In April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl set sail from the Peruvian coast in the 45-foot Kon Tiki. Taking 101 days and 4,300 miles, the project demonstrated that voyages across the oceans were a possibility, proving his theory that Polynesia was populated from South America, and not southeast Asia as previously assumed. During the journey, Heyerdahl saw, near the Kon Tiki raft, strange phosphorescent animals and other extremely large unknown creatures in the middle of the night that have never been identified.

Heyerdahl in 1944 first met a Norwegian resistance fighter named Knut Haugland at a paramilitary training camp in England. It was here that Haugland first heard of Heyerdahl’s theories about Polynesian migration patterns, and his plans to cross the Pacific on a balsa wood raft.

The Norwegian resistance fighter would help prevent the German nuclear program from getting heavy water to make weapons, during Operation Grouse, and be decorated by the British in World War II for his service.

After the war, Haugland joined Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition in 1947 as a radio operator.

Haugland played, of course, himself in the 1950 documentary film Kon-Tiki. The movie, which was directed by Thor Heyerdahl and edited by Olle Nordemar, received the Academy Award for Documentary Feature at the 24th Academy Awards in 1951. The Oscar officially went to Olle Nordemar. It is the only feature film from Norway to win an Academy Award. He would found the Kon-Tiki Museum.

Now, Knut Magne Haugland, 92, the last of six crew members who crossed the Pacific Ocean on board the balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki, has died of natural causes on Friday, Christmas Day, in an Oslo, Sweden, hospital, according to Kon-Tiki Museum Director Maja Bauge.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


2 Responses to “Last Kon-Tiki Crew Member Dies”

  1. greywolf responds:

    As a young man with an interest in the outdoors and the adventure of the hunt I read the book and also saw the film. Theirs was the adventure of a lifetime. God will keep them close!

    I am now 71 and still remember the great read that the book and adventure presented.

  2. DWA responds:

    “In April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl set sail from the Peruvian coast in the 45-foot Kon Tiki. Taking 101 days and 4,300 miles, the project demonstrated that voyages across the oceans were a possibility, proving his theory that Polynesia was populated from South America, and not southeast Asia as previously assumed. ”

    Well, hold it a bit. For one thing, that passage should be clearer; Kon-Tiki demonstrated that voyages across oceans *in flimsy rafts of a type theorized to have been used for same* were a possibility, as of course they’d long been proven possible by other means.

    And no theory was proven. One theory was demonstrated to be possible. I still think we may have far less of an idea how Homo sapiens populated this planet than we do what those weird critters were that Heyerdahl saw on his expedition.



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