Arctic Flights

Claiming the Far North

the Arctic 1926.0514

Arctic Flights

Arctic exploration, colonization of Greenland and Northern Canada, Erik the Red's Land (14 May 1926)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

Following its peace with the Soviet Union, Japan ratified the Spitsbergen Treaty, the last of the original signatories to do so. This Treaty gave Norway sovereignty over Svalbard (their name for Spitsbergen) on condition it remained demilitarized and open to commercial interests. By now most of the Arctic had been claimed and was, with the advent of powered flight, vastly more accessible than before. In 1926, Byrd flew from Svalbard to the vicinity of the Pole and back in less than 16 hours, while Amundsen crossed the Pole in a 4 day airship journey from Norway to Alaska. To the new aviators, the Arctic was more a highway than an impenetrable barrier.

Main Events

Soviet Union suppresses All-Tungus Congress of the Okhotsk Coast

Svalbard Treaty effective

After late ratification by Japan, the Spitsbergen Treaty came into force, giving Norway sovereignty over the Spitsbergen/Svalbard archipelago. The stipulations of the treaty meant that while Svalbard was part of Norway and under Norwegian administration, Norway could only collect enough taxes on Svalbard to support Svalbard and its government, Norway had to preserve the Svalbard environment, Norway could not discriminate against any nationals residing in Svalbard, and Norway could not permit naval bases or fortifications on Svalbard.

Franz Josef Land claim

The Soviet Union declared its annexation of Franz Josef Land as part of its claim on all land between the Soviet mainland and the North Pole.

Byrd's North Pole flight

The American aviator Richard E. Byrd, and US Navy pilot Floyd Bennett, flew to and from Spitsbergen over the North Pole region in a Fokker F.VIIa/3m Tri-motor monoplane named Josephine Ford. The flight lasted fifteen hours and fifty-seven minutes, including 13 minutes of circling the Pole, and Byrd's claim to have reached the North Pole itself made him a hero when he returned to the US.

Norge trans-polar flight

The Italian-built airship Norge, carrying the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, Italian aviator Umberto Nobile, American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, and 13 other men, departed from King's Bay at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, on 11 May 1926 (incidentally meeting Byrd as he prepared for his flight to the North Pole). On 12 May they reached the Pole - where they dropped Norwegian, Italian, and American flags - before traveling on to the village of Teller, Alaska, thus completing the first trans-polar crossing (and possibly the first verified trip to the North Pole).

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