Gunnar “Spökis” Andersson was born in 1923 and even as a child, it was clear that he was destined to fly. His first “aircraft” was an upside-down kennel, and his first flight consisted of a margarine box tied to a rope hanging from a tree. Though this ended in a small crash, it did not deter Gunnar from reaching for the skies.
Living in Jämtland, and near the Fourth Air Force’s (Royal Jämtland Air Fleet F 4) in Fröson, probably gave him the inspiration to fly. At the age of 16, he became a student at the gliding school in Alleberg, where he was able to show off his natural aptitude for flying. Soon it would be recommended that he apply to the Air Force.
Gunnar served as a flight mechanic during World War Two at Jämtland’s Air Flotilla F 4. It was his service there that probably game him the nickname “Spökis”, meaning “Ghost”. While there are many ideas on how he got this name, his night missions near the Norwegian border or flying as a traveling mechanic for the aviation ambulance are the most likely sources since the plane he flew did so with the lights off!
When he was 19, he accompanied a flight that saved a Jewish family from the Nazis in the Norwegian mountains. Because of him, they were able to board safely and to be flown to a hospital in Vilhelmina. His service as a flying mechanic gave him essential knowledge needed for navigating the mountain region. Even though he flew many missions by himself, he still had not qualified as a pilot and so was accompanied on these missions by a pilot. In 1946 however he received his A-Licence from the Norrköping flight school.
Gunnar started an aviation business transporting radios to small villages, including a flight school, tourist flights, and transportation flight. In 1958, this expanded even further upon signing on with the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration. This helped him undertake an all-year-round rescue service which led to daily and weekly headlines following his daring rescue missions.
Despite many setbacks, Gunnar kept his business alive with his wife, Dagmar. He managed to increase his fleet to four aircraft and included a helicopter in October 1962, which meant he had to learn to fly a completely new type of aircraft. He worked tirelessly to improve the mountains’ safety and introduced an emergency transmitter system called “Diana” for mountain rescue, receiving numerous awards for his work.
Just as he was born to fly, so it would seem Gunnar was destined to depart this world flying. Gunnar “Spökis” Andersson died in a helicopter crash on December 19, 1974.
The TIDLÖS team salutes the forgotten hero, Gunnar “Spökis” Andersson, a legendary pilot who pioneered Swedish Aviation Rescue and whose selfless service and love of the open skies led to innumerable rescue and humanitarian efforts over three decades.