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If the weather conditions were favorable, the Swedish aeronaut, Mr. Andre (sic), started on his balloon voyage to the North Pole yesterday. The ascension was to be made from Danes Island, on the northwest coast of Spizbergen (sic), his plan being to take the flight from that point across to the North Pole, and thence around to Alaska. Mr. Andre is not a mere visionary adventurer, but a man of science, and this startling voyage is undertaken with the approval and under the auspices of the government of Sweden, all the expenses of the outfit having been provided for by the king. All things considered, this is probably the most daring as well as the most perilious (sic) expedition on record, and it is admitted that the chances are ten to one that Dr. Andre will never again be heard from.

The North Pole is supposed to be about seven hundred miles from Danes Island. It is of course not expected that he will undertake to make the return by the route he goes. If he succeeds in crossing the Pole he will endeavor to navigate in the direction of Alaska, hoping to make a descent at some inhabited portion of that section. According to Dr. Andre's calculations he will, under the most favorable circumstances, travel about 2,100 miles, and ten days is the time he expects will be consumed in making the voyage.

Every possible precaution has been taken in the preparation of his air-ship and the safety of the aeronaut and his two companions provided for in every way that could be devised. But with all the precautions taken it is admitted that the chances are greatly against the return of the voyagers. If the conditions yesterday were such as to make the start impracticable, then it will be delayed until the first propitious day. He was all ready to sail on the 2nd inst., but heavy storms prevailed at that time and a postponement was necessary. Dr. Andre enters upon this perilous and unprecedented undertaking with confidence, but with a full realization of what is before him. A balloon, however carefully constructed, is a frail and uncertain craft in which to undertake a journey of more than 2,000 miles into an unknown region, where the foot of man has never trod, and concerning which literally nothing is known.

Some do not hesitate to pronounce Mr. Andre a fool to take such risks. He makes this venture in the cause of science, and possibly for the fame that awaits him if he succeeds. And what if he actually crosses the pole, and veering around reaches Alaska and returns to civilization? Under the most favorable circumstances he will be able to report that he has seen an open or frozen sea, as the case may be, whether there is little or much land, and whether he saw any vegetable or animal life, provided he gets near enough terra firma to note these things. But, after all, in this day Dr. Andre's voyage is scarcely more startling than was that undertaken by Columbus a little more than four centuries ago.

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:

Wilksbarre Record, Wilksbarre, PA. July 17, 1896

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Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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