Plane crash at Torghatten near Brønnøysund, May 6, 1988
It is Friday, May 6, 1988. Preparations for the confirmation weekend are underway in Brønnøysund. Outside, around the Torghatten, there is thick fog and drizzle. At 8:28 p.m. the officer reports: “three green” and means the indicator lights that confirm the extended aircraft wheels in their locked position.
A few seconds later, a passenger sitting on a folding seat next to the cockpit uses the emergency technology to find out if the wheels could not be extended.
Even after this information, this passenger engages the pilot in a conversation. The pilot should now concentrate on the landing approach to Brønnøysund. But the navigation is not controlled by this distraction and many checks are not carried out.
The pilot has no view due to the weather and is three degrees away from the actual course. In addition, the aircraft sinks to 550 feet four nautical miles early. This is what the autopilot is set to, but it should have been set at 1,500 feet.
The machine now automatically flies directly towards the Torghatten. An attempt to pull the plane up at the last moment fails. The Fokker F28 crashes on the Torghatten massif.
In the evening at Brønnøysund airport on May 6, 1988
Roger Moe, Tove’s husband, works as a caretaker at the helicopter base in Brønnøysund. His son Terje is housed with his sister. His wife works as an office clerk in the city administration. At 8:20 p.m. she should land by plane. Roger Moe goes to the arrival hall on time.
But completely shocked and with tears in his eyes, an employee of the airline Widerøe comes towards him from the tower. Something happened to the plane.
Hoping that Roger Moe will go back to his work place, talk to the family on the phone and try to answer press inquiries. He sees the fire brigade moving across the runway. But Roger Moe is certain that line 710 on Torghatten is in ruins. And with this his wife also crashed. The plane should actually continue to fly to Bodø.
Usually you can be a Torghatten from a distance, but today he is wrapped in sideline. A local resident had heard the flight noise and then a loud bang. He immediately dials the emergency call.
The rescue operation on Torghatten
It quickly becomes clear which machine has crashed. It is now important for the rescuers to get an overview. Where are the debris, how do you get to the wreck, how many injuries can be saved and how many bodies must be recovered. A challenge for the rescue service in the small Brønnøysund.
Still hoping for survivors, in addition to the fire brigade, many volunteers came to the accident site to help. You listen to the smallest noise, the smallest whimper. But all that remains is the crackling of the many spread fires, which are extinguished immediately. Everywhere it smells of kerosene. There is a dead silence over the accident site.
The rescuers have never seen so much death, and they will carry these images forever. You will have to come back and meet the relatives’ hoping and pleading eyes that there is no hope.
The investigators will soon be at the scene of the accident. In addition to searching for the cause, they also have to identify the many bodies. In addition to the casualties, the luggage is recovered and, if possible, allocated to the travelers. But the rescuers also find familiar faces. Because nine people come from Brønnøysund and almost everyone knows everyone here. It will not be easy to do your service in your own dismay, while at the same time having to tell relatives the sad certainty that there will be no reunion.
Many of the staff will be reminded of the disaster every time they approach a Widerøe machine, many will never forget the sounds and the pictures and smell of the scene of the accident.
Roger Moe lost his wife and son lost his mother. Many fates have been sealed in seconds. But Roger Moe alone is suing the airline because this accident was caused by gross negligence. The airline Widerøe is not cooperative, on the contrary. It is intimidated, it is threatened. You try to fetch him with ridiculous sums.
In December 1993, Roger Moe gave up and agreed to a settlement. He receives NOK 825,000 (approx. EUR 82,000) in compensation for pain and suffering and does not claim that the accident was caused by gross negligence. However, if one reads the final report of the official investigation, this claim is maintained there.
His son suffers from the loss of his mother for a long time, Roger tries to balance what he can. But he will never replace the mother, he cannot be more than a father. He stays at home and takes a small widow’s pension. He will receive support in the care of his son from his mother and mother-in-law in the next few years.
Roger Moe has to deal with the misfortune on his own; at no point is he treated psychologically. He finds a stop in the Freundeskreis. His son will later have his income as a cook.
The worst plane crash after 1972
On December 23, 1972, 40 of 45 inmates were killed in a plane crash 16 kilometers from what was then Oslo Fornebu Airport. During the approach, the flight captain had a private radio conversation with the air traffic controller over Christmas trees and thereby got off course.
The story of the second worst aircraft accident in the history of Norway, on May 6, 1988 In Brønnøysund / Torghatten we did research in the Norwegian media and in the official final report of the flight investigation. A plaque on Torghatten commemorates this tragic accident.