IMPORTANT MESSAGES FOR THE FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS OF POLAR FLIGHT 90
New Departure Date: April 1, 2013
During April of 2011, I did my best to fly the Polar Pumpkin to the Top of the World - 90 Degrees North Latitude. Weather - high winds, snow storms, freezing fog, etc. - caused frequent delays. Therefore, when I was perusing my last flight leg to the Pole - from Eureka Weather Station, at 80N/86W - I was behind the "time curve". The Russians had departed Ice Station Barneo; and my professional polar weather forecaster in Belgium advised that even though I could fly to the Pole on April 25, I could likely not be able to return, due to an approaching system of bad weather spinning off northern Greenland into the polar basin. So . . . I was forced to take the tough decision, and retreat. Immediately, I began making plans to fly the Pumpkin to the Pole during April 2012. I learned a great deal on this first attempt - logistically and scientifically; so, I reckon, my chances of success on the second attempt are considerably improved.
To those folks that have supported me on the first flight, I am forever grateful. If you believe that my objectives have merit, I would ask that you stick with me. For others wishing to join the Polar Flight 90 Team, I welcome you on board the Pumpkin to the Pole during April 2012.
Two factors have caused me to reschedule my departure to the North Pole until April 2011.
Upon my return to Alaska, the Polar Pumpkin had a thorough inspection by my excellent aircraft mechanics in Fairbanks. Several maintenance issues were discovered that require attention before the plane is safe for flight across the drifting pack ice of the Arctic Ocean. Second, additional scientific objectives have been added to the flight that require development and testing. In order to maximize flight safety and scientific productivity, it is prudent to delay the flight until 2011.
During the past year much has happened involving the Polar Pumpkin Cessna 185, and preparations to fly the aircraft to the Geographic North Pole. I flew the plane from California through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri to Illinois, displayed the aircraft at Oshkosh Airventure in Wisconsin; then flew on to Ohio, Indiana, New York, down the eastern seaboard through Delaware and Virginia to the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and back up to Illinois - giving a series of lectures about the expedition while enroute.
During the past winter, I visited Belgium, Austria, Russia, and England arranging various logistical aspects of the flight, and its scientific focus.
More recently, I flew the Polar Pumpkin from Illinois through Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory on to Fairbanks, Alaska. Now I continue making preparations, while in Alaska, for the flight to the North Pole.
The Arctic Ocean is one of Earth's very dynamic environments, demanding ultimate vigilance and respect.
Roald Amundsen, in conversation with Bernt Balchen, stated that, "you must learn about previous expeditions and benefit from their experiences, and be thorough and well-prepared in all respects."
Amundsen was the first person to the South Pole, by dog team; and is likely to have been the first person to the North Pole, in the dirigible Norge. Balchen was the first person to have flown an aircraft over both Poles. I proudly carry the very same Explorers Club Flag #53 carried by Balchen to Antarctica in 1933; and I have a great deal of respect for the memories of both these talented polar explorers.
It is my intent, as suggested by Amundsen, to "be thorough and well-prepared in all respects".
With much gratitude for your support, I am