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THE NORTH POLE
If, as is alleged, the King of Sweden proposes to subsidize M. Andree's contemplated balloon expedition to the North Pole the enterprise becomes more serious than it has hitherto been considered. Whether M. Andree succeeds or not his balloon excursion will become a part of the history of the attempts to attain this most difficult of feats.
It will not do to say that the Pole is unattainable by means of a balloon launched from the northern coast of Norway, where M. Andree proposes to launch his. With a fair wind the balloon would pass the region of the Pole in forty-eight hours or less.
Under favorable circumstances the geography of the region might be determined to such an extent as to settle the vexed questions of whether or not the Pole is surrounded by an open sea. Geographical and meteorological observations might be made as well from a balloon as from the ground. If the trip were made in the arctic midsummer it would not necessarily entail greater suffering from cold than is felt at elevations frequently reached by aeronauts in temperate climates.
No such chances, however, have been deliberately taken in the history of ballooning as such a voyage would involve. The dangers in the air are perhaps not much greater than they would be elsewhere, but after the balloon descends in an uninhabited and probably in an unknown region the chances are a hundred to one against the return of the aeronauts, even in case they are fortunate enough to descend on land, which is very problematical.
But all this will make no difference. If King Oscar furnishes the money to pay expenses it will be easy to find men ready to take the risk, if only for the exhilaration of being in danger the like of which no man had ever known before.
Reproduced with permission: L.L. Dyche, Explorations (Newspaper Clippings Related to Polar Exploration), Vol. 1 & 2. University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS.
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