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A Theory That Failed.

It is now a little more than a year since Prof. Andree and his two companions started on their sensational and perilous balloon journey to the North Pole. Nothing has been heard of the bold adventurers since a few days after they started from Dane's Island, when a carrier pigeon brought a brief message showing that the balloon was going eastward and making very little progress toward its destination. Many scientific men in Sweden and Norway, knowing well the plans of Prof. Andree, have until lately expressed confidence that he would come back all right, as they did not expect that he would be able to make the journey home in much less than a year. The balloon, of course, was to be abandoned as soon as the Pole was reached, and the party was to return on foot through the polar ice fields and the broad wastes of Siberia. So far as we know the friends of Andree have not yet acknowledged that they have given up all hope of his return, but it must be an uncommonly sanguine mind that can still entertain such a hope. There is every reason for the belief that Andree and his brave companions perished long ago. The balloon is apparently a failure as a means of reaching the North Pole. But its use for that purpose is not without advantages. It can carry only two or three men to destruction, whereas a ship may carry scores. And nobody will be likely to entertain the idea of sending a relief expedition to find the remains of the Andree party, so there will be no further suffering or loss of life on account of that bold attempt to discover the Pole. The fate of Andree and his companions should teach a useful lesson. It proves what hardly needed to be proved to practical minds, namely, that the navigation of the air cannot be made anything different from what it always has been -- a matter of chance and guess work. Andree thought he had solved the problem of aerial travel. He had a theory about air currents upon which he placed implicit reliance. He was very confident that there was a steady and cangeless (sic) current of air setting toward the North Pole at a certain season of the year. Assuming this to be a fact the rest was simple enough. It was only necessary to have a good balloon, perfectly equipped and provided with an ample store of the necessaries (sic) of life. In these respects the Andree expedition was perfectly planned. But it failed, presumably because it became the helpless toy of the wind, which bloweth where it listeth. The steady current toward the Pole did not materialize. And Andree, with the courageous men who accompanied him, will probably never be heard of more.

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:

Rochester Union Advertiser, Rochester, NY, Aug. 3, 1898

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Jennifer Holvoet, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

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