Norrønafly has an interesting story, that began for over 50 years ago. It startet with a young mans dream, and has been through several chapters that include being a flying school, a distributor of aircrafts, hold propeller workshops, extend the business with aircraft parts and more.
Norrønafly has been in operation for more than 50 years. The company was originally established by Mr. Oddvar Korsvold in 1953. In the beginning the fleet grew through purchase and repair of old planes. Later on, Norrønafly became a specialized workshop for aircraft maintenance. Today we work with customers across the world.
The Beginning of Norrønafly
The founder of Norrønafly, Mr. Odvar Korsvold, was a young pilot with a burning ambition to have his own flying operation. He got his Private Pilots license in 1946, and flew for several years in rented airplanes, in order to get enough hours to qualify for a commercial license. He got a job flying for Wideroe in northern Norway, flying Beavers and Norsemans on a contract for SAS. Wideroe is today the 3rd largest airline in Norway, while SAS and Norwegian Air Shuttle are on top.
The first aircraft was a De Havilland Auster. The fleet grew with Danish built KZ, then a Norwegian built C5 Polar. The fleet grew in a few years to a very mixed collection of old beat-up airplanes, as the main factor in deciding to add another to the fleet was the price. The planes were more often than not purchased un-airworthy or damaged and repaired as cheaply as possible before being returned to the air.
In 1954 the company relocated to Oslo Fornebu Airport, and the need for maintenance made it necessary to purchase some old wooden buildings without running water or telephone. In those days it was a waiting list of several years to get a phone installed, and fledgling airlines were not high on the priority list. Running water was remarkably not available until 1963.
In 1965 the old buildings were destroyed in a fire, and the Norrønafly moved into “new” premises, 3 wooden hangars constructed by the Germans during the occupation of Norway. In these buildings the company remained until 1987, when the buildings were demolished. In 1985 the construction of a new facility with workshops, hangar and a 5-story office building had been started. The propeller workshop joined forces with the spare parts department, forming the company Norrønafly Propeller & Parts.
Charter flying market
At the start of the company the basis for all flying was charter or «for hire, anywhere, anytime.» Flying hunting parties to the lakes in the mountains, businessmen, $ 5 rides and cargo. The Beech D18 flew fresh shrimps from Northern Norway to fancy restaurants in Stockholm, and the Norwegians build the flying boat Finnmarken to flew fresh crabs from western Norway to Sweden.
The charter business culminated with the first tourist inclusive tour operation to Spain in 1960 with the Convair 240.
This aircraft was the one used by Queen Elisabeth the II of England during her coronation tour to the British Empire. The aircraft was subsequently owned by the Sheik of Kuwait, so the total time was low, and it was sitting in the desert, completely forgotten and «out of gas», when Norrønafly discovered it.
In order to start the inclusive tours, Norrønafly teamed up with an investor and started Saga Tours, today Norway’s largest inclusive tour specialist. However, the large Norwegian airlines such as Braathens, Fred Olsen and SAS soon saw interest in Norrønas defined market and would ultimately increase the utilization of their own aircraft.
Norrønafly never had the capital to combat this, and Odvar Korsvold – always the realist – shut this part of the business down and turned his attention elsewhere.
Aerial photo flying gave good income
The backbone of the company in the coming years was the aerial photo flying. It gave a good income right from the start. A surplus US camera was purchased with a 5 x 5-inch negative size that gave very clear negatives, and cheap surplus Kodak film was purchased from the USA in large quantities. Vertical Photography for the Coastal Map Directorate was performed with the Norwegian built C5 Polar aircraft from 20.000 feet with oxygen, using a camera so large and heavy camera that it took several men to manhandle it into the aircraft.
Today there is thousands of pictures on the walls in Norwegian homes, as a result of this flying and the door-to-door salesmen from Norrønafly offering a photo from the air of your home town, your property or your house.
In 1992 the aerial photo business was going through a generation change, and the decision was made to sell the business, including an archive of some 300.000 photos of Norway.
Norrønafly started a flying school
As a Piper distributor in the 60’s, Norrønafly started a flying school, using only factory new Piper Cherokees. The school grew fast, training up to 100 pilots per year, flying 13.000 hours a year with 15 Pipers. Fornebu – the Capitals main airport – was used as the base of operations, including flight training.
It does say a lot about the activity level of air traffic at that time.
The Coastal Artillery needed fast machines for gunnery training. Winning a contract for the armed forces, Norrønafly bought 2 factory new Cessna 195 with 330 horsepower engines, and these fast 5 seaters were well suited for the demands of that time.
Ice seeding for clear air
Fornebu Airport, being situated by the Oslo fjord, had its share of fog in the wintertime. With temperatures just around or above freezing, the fog would frequently close the airport.
Norronafly installed a special dry-ice grinder run by an electric motor. The Aztec would take of with 400 kg of dry ice. You fed the ice in on top of the grinder, and the finely ground dry ice would lower the air temperature so the fog would turn to snow. A corridor of clear air would appear, so the circling airliners could land. If the visibility did not improve enough, the Aztec would have to carry fuel enough to reach Sweden to land.
1970: Rakkestad Airport – Norrønafly Rakkestad
In 1970 Odvar Korsvold purchased a farm 90 kilometers southeast of Oslo. He made a 600 meter “grass” runway and built a large aircraft maintenance shop with 2000 sq. meters hangar.
This was considered a risky investment, as most people believed that a workshop could not exist anywhere but the main airport Fornebu. The story is that the tricky and bumpy little uphill grass strip generated its own fair share of work for the maintenance shop, you would not miss your approach by much before you ended up with you prop in the dirt.
This Company is today one of Scandinavia’s largest shops for aircraft maintenance and structural repair, and is a separate company called Norrønafly – Rakkestad AS. In 1998 the company -this time with the help of Rakkestad City – invested heavily in a hard surface, 860-meter runway with lights and aprons.
1970-1887: First propeller workshop
In the empty hangars at Fornebu, Norronafly started a propeller workshop, starting with 2 mechanics and overhauling fixed pitch propellers only. Through the 70s and 80s the shop expanded continuously and became a distributor for several of the leading propeller manufacturers.
1987-2011: Aiming sky high
In 1987, a new workshop was built at Fornebu. During the 90s, maintenance on composite propellers became the company’s largest product, as many small piston and turbine aircraft were sold out of the country, mainly back to the USA. Wheel & Brake Maintenance was added to our capability list, as well as Work on propellers for the larger commuters is now the largest part of this business, as well as component work, such as wheels and brakes, etc.
Norrønafly extended with aircraft parts
The spare parts department started in 1970 as a purchasing office for the company’s own maintenance operation. This grew into a spare parts outlet for Cessna and Piper aircraft, as well as several engines, parts and component distributorships. Today, Norronafly is a Cessna Service Station, but also distributes parts for other types of GA aircraft such as Piper and Raytheon (Beech).
From aircraft sales to service station
Norronafly was the distributor for Piper Aircraft in the 60s and early 70s and for Cessna from 1972 to 78. At one time distributorships were held for both manufacturers, so a visit from the Piper would result in some hectic activity, with people running around taking down the Cessna posters and getting the Pipers up. When the Cessna man arrived, the process would repeat itself.
At the most, Norronafly sold 75 Pipers in Norway and Sweden in one year, as the need for aircraft was very real after years of currency limitations after the war. A new Cherokee could be bought for around US$ 10.000 in 1960 money.
In 1989 Norronafly became a «Service Station» for Cessna, and from 1997 a «CSTAR» (Cessna Sales Team Authorized Representative) after the restart of single engine piston aircraft.
A new era
Due to the close down of Fornebu Airport in 1997, Norrønafly went into a troublesome conflict. Norrønafly had built the hangar on leased premises. In the end Norrønafly lost the legal dispute and had to withdraw from the premises without compensation for its own hangar.
In 2012 Norrønafly moved into new facilities at Alnabru. A new taylormade workshop was built. A transition from aluminum propellers to composit propellers had already begun. This required new competence, among this NDT.
Norrønafly got the contract for service and repair of Norwegians Fokker 50 fleet. Later on also for SAS Fokker 50, but a planed replacement was already underway to jet.
Norrønafly continued to expand into Saab 340, ATR 42/72, Fokker 50 in Europe and worldwide. The NDT competence has increasingly been used into jet aircraft, among Boeing 737 and 787 (Dreamliner).
Today focus is regional airlines in Europe. For Saab 340 and Fokker the market is worldwide. Our NDT services are in addition directed towards large airlines as Norwegian.
The Korsvold family sold out the company in 2015 to Tom Haugan. In 2018 Haugan sold the company to the brothers Frode and Esben Fiane. Esben Fiane is today Accountable manager of the company.