“My Polar Flights”

Umberto Nobile, the Italian airship builder and pilot, came together with the great Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen to reach and cross the North Pole by air for the first time, in the year 1926. Two years later, on a subsequent expedition, Nobile and his men were shipwrecked. This first part of this volume, entitled “The First Crossing of the Arctic Ocean”, covers the successful voyage of the N1 Norge, known as the Amundsen–Ellsworth–Nobile Polar Expedition. The second part, “The Tragedy of the Italia”, is about twice as long.

Having read My Zeppelins, I thought that this would be of similar interest, and also that it might be best to give General Nobile the chance (as it were) to defend himself against some belittling remarks of Dr Eckener’s regarding his skill as an airshipman.

  • 2024–02–20 The preface ; the first chapter, The Preliminaries of the Expedition ; and a little bit of the second chapter, On the Eve of the Flight. (Chapters are not numbered.)
  • 2024–02–23 Remainder of the second chapter ; beginning of the third chapter, The Flight from Rome to the Svalbard.
  • 2024–02–27 Completion of the third chapter, and almost all of the fourth, From King’s Bay to the Pole.
  • 2024–03–08 Completion of the fourth chapter, covering the actual first attainment and crossing of the North Pole by air ; and the whole of the fifth chapter, In the Unexplored Zone, describing an incredible feat of piloting under conditions of adverse weather and extreme exhaustion.
  • 2024–03–12 Two short chapters, The End of the Flight and Returning Home, and an Appendix, complete Part I. The author attempts to settle once and for all the controversy caused by certain intemperate and ill–informed remarks of Amundsen, who knew much of Polar exploration, but little of airships or their handling.
  • 2024–03–15 Origin and Preparation of the Expedition (in which we learn how to spell “caïque”), and the first part of The Flight from Milan to King’s Bay, describing the atrocious weather on the way to Stolp on the Baltic (now Słupsk, Poland), begin Part II.
  • 2024–03–19 Completion of The Flight from Milan to King’s Bay ; At King’s Bay ; and The Flight to Severnaya Zemlya.
  • 2024–03–29 The Voyage to the Pole ; The Catastrophe ; and the beginning of Adrift on the Pack. I note details related by Nobile which completely negative Eckener’s notion of the cause of the wreck. (For some reason, the aNONradio archiver split this show into two parts, so I had to re-join it.)
  • 2024–04–05 After a couple of days when I could not do a show, the remainder of Adrift on the Pack, followed by the entirety of The Courage of Despair. Interrupted near the end by a telephone call.
  • 2024–05–10 “Both Parties will Die!” ; Six in the Red Tent ; and the first part of The Miracle of the Radio.
  • 2024–05–14 After some dead air and glitches at the beginning, the completion of The Miracle of the Radio ; Manna from Heaven ; and the first section of An Aeroplane Lands on the Pack.
  • 2024–05–17 The remainder of An Aeroplane Lands on the Pack ; and all of On the Città di Milano, in which Captain Romagna has things to say which are difficult to comprehend, much less believe. Only one chapter remains.
  • 2024–05–21 Our story concludes with the long chapter entitled The End of the Drama. Details of the political scene have been omitted by General Nobile, but may be read in his 1945 book Posso Dire la Verità.