What Can Amundsen Accomplish?

A 1922 New York Times Magazine article described Roald Amundsen’s imminent attempt to fly over the North Pole as “the greatest venture into the unknown since Columbus set out from the shores of Spain.”

Eleven years prior, Amundsen’s party of five had become the first in human history to reach the South Pole, in 1911. The North Pole was reached even before that, by either Robert Peary in 1909 or Frederick Cook in 1908, depending on who you ask.

Within a month or two Captain Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer, may be the receipient of the world’s congratulations as the greatest of Arctic or Antarctic heroes. Or, on the other hand, his nearest relatives may be the receipients of the world’s condolences. For this intrepid discoverer of the South Pole and navigator of the norhteast and northwest passages is about to embark on what he hopes will be the crowning achievement of his career — an 1,800-mile flight across the North Pole, from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Spitzbergen [in northern Norway].

The article’s final paragraph estimated that Amundsen’s odds were about 6:1 against. Indeed, the trip failed, as Amundsen abandoned the attempt when his plane became damaged. But his subsequent attempt in 1926 proved successful, the first such trans-Arctic aerial flight.

Amundsen disappeared in 1928 during a rescue mission and was never seen again.

What Can Amundsen Accomplish?

Published: Sunday, July 23, 1922

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