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The daring project of reaching the North Pole by balloon has been fairly launched, and if nothing happens the balloon will be in due season. In regard to this proposed perilous attempt, the Boston Advertiser has the following:

The Paris Temps has just announced that the order for M. Andree's balloon has been given to M. Lachambre, the balloon maker, and that the balloon is immediately to be constructed at the workshops at Vaugirard. This contract has been signed on the basis of an eventual payment of about $10,000 for the balloon and its fittings. The original plan for the balloon has been somewhat enlarged, so that the price paid will be larger than had been at first expected. The changes which have been made in the balloon have been largely due to consultations between M. Eckholm and M. Reynard, the manager of the great balloon established (sic) at Chalias-Meudon. The aeronaut has grown quite interested in M. Andree's plan for the expedition from Sweden, and will give his advice and counsel in the work of preparing the balloon which is to be used in making the voyage across the polar regions.

After giving some technical information in regard to the construction of the balloon, The Advertiser has the following of interest concerning the plans for the trip:

The expedition which is to be made by this balloon has now become reasonably familiar to the general public. The plan proposed by M. Andree has been considered by French savants, and has received their favorable judgement, the proposition being to launch the balloon from some point on the northern coast of Swedon (sic), and to trust to the wind to bring the air ship safely over the polar regions, either upon the Asian or North American continent. Of course, care must be take to make the voyage when the wind is right and is blowing so steadily as to justify the inference that there will be no immediate change. It has been noted that the air current near the pole seem (sic) to have little variation at certain times of the year; and it is because of this fact that the balloon expedition for the polar regions was first suggested.

These steady winds are usually noted during the months of the late spring, that is, during April and May. So that there still remain three months in which to complete the preparations for the trip. As soon as the balloon, for whose construction the contract has just been given, is completed, the air ship will be tried under a number of varying conditions, so as to insure, if possible, perfect familiarity with the machine and to avoid much possibility of accident. Whether the expedition will prove successful or not is, of course, a matter of opinion. The attempt will not be without some risk as it is not yet known exactly what conditions of air currents prevail at the North Pole.

If, for any reason the balloon should long be delayed within the Arctic circle, the disastrous loss of the whole expedition will be a danger from which there will be little escape, as the gas in the balloon will be sufficient for a voyage of only a few days at most, even after all the impedimenta in the car, and possibly the car itself, shall have been thrown away from the balloon. The expedition, therefore, is no mere holiday affair, but will be a very serious matter. Its failure would not be surprising in view of the fate which has overtaken nearly every polar expedition up to the present time.

On the other hand the success of the attempt would make the explorers famous all over the world. What generation after generation has failed to accomplish, they may be able to secure within 24 hours after entering the realm of frozen ice. Should they return alive even, they will have much reason to congratulate themselves; and it is by no means certain that their voyage will not be eventful, even should they fail to get within sight of the region of the North Pole. They may be able to throw some light upon the Nansen expedition, for example, which has been within the fields of frozen ice for more than two years, and which, for all the world knows to the contrary, may be even now at the North Pole. In fact, it is more than a coincidence that the two expeditions from which the world today hopes most are those which propose to "drift" to the pole rather than "go" to it.

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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Original Source:

Nashua Telegraph, Nashua, NH. Jan. 15, 1896

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Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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