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The Mystery of Andree


If Andree's Plans Worked as He Expected He is Probably Among the Gold Fields.

Direction He Hoped to Go.

People of Berlin and Stockholm Insist That the Intrepid Explorer Forgot His Drag Ropes.

So far as one can say that any navigator who trusts himself to the currents of the air is due anywhere at any time, Prof. Andree, who set out to find the north pole in a balloon, is due in Alaska. He may already have arrived, but if so it will be a good while before the outside world can expect to learn the fact, for Alaska is not yet as well provided with telegraph stations as it will be one day if the gold excitement keeps up.

The distance to be traveled between Spitzbergen, where Andree began his journey, and Alaska, where he may have ended it, can be roughly stated as 1,500 or 1,600 miles. From his observation of air currents which at this time of the year flow over the pole from Norway to Alaska at a fairly uniform rate Andree expected to travel from twelve to fifteen miles an hour. Analogy would lead one to expect a rather slower rate at the pole. At 300 miles a day the entire trip should occupy but a week, in case the favorable conditions expected were realized and there were no eddies and currents of wind. If the track of the balloon, however, resembles the lines on a pattern supplement, longer time must elapse before the trip ends.

The extreme western point of Spitzbergen was chosen for the start because at that place the currents of air seem to blow directly toward the pole or, rather, slightly to the left of it. Alaskan air currents seem, however, to emerge from the polar region, with a curve to the right, or toward Siberia. Connecting these curves by a conjectured line over the pole, Andree anticipated for the entire course a curve something like that which is know to artists as the "line of beauty," a gentle double curve, due to the rotation of the earth on its axis. At the time of Andree's departure from Spitzbergen a furious gale was raging, so that more than record time may have been made.

It was freely asserted in Berlin and Stockholm that Andree left Spitzbergen in such a hurry that he forgot his drag ropes. He had extra rope in the car of his balloon, but this must soon have worn out and no change was possible.

The object of the drag rope was to keep the balloon at a uniform height without loss of gas and also to direct its course to some extent, for which purpose the car was hung on a ring, half of whose circumference was provided with eleven points of attachment for the drag rope. The sail was fixed immovably to the ring. By altering the drag rope from one to the other of these hooks, by means of a double pulley, the course of the balloon culd (sic) theoretically be made to veer several degrees from the actual direction of the wind.

If Andree did reach the pole, he found there but one direction, south; but one condition of light, broad day, and probably not an intolerable degree of cold, unless the journey was much prolonged.

Reproduced with permission: L.L. Lewis, Explorations (Newspaper Clippings Related to Polar Exploration), Vol. 1 & 2. University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS.



Original Source:

Chicago News, Chicago, IL. July 30, 1897


Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

Lesson(s) Related to This Article:

1. Polar Winds and Andree - Grades 9-12

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