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Umberto Nobile: Arctic Blimpmaster

Umberto Nobile was the pilot and designer of the airship Norge (Norway). He, Roald Amundsen and Lincoln Ellsworth became the first explorers to fly over the North Pole in a dirigible (May 11-13, 1926).

However, Nobile wanted to make an all-Italian flight to the Pole. He planned to fly the airship Italia from Spitzbergen (Svalbard) and land at the Pole.

In 1928, the dirigible reached the Pole, but it could not land because of bad weather. Icing created new problems, eventually causing the airship to strike the ice - ripping open the pilot cabin and dumping the crew and contents onto the ice. The rest of the dirigible rose into the sky and disappeared with six men still aboard.

Nine crewmembers, including Nobile, were stranded on the pack ice for seven weeks before being rescued.

As a further tragedy, Roald Amundsen died travelling by air from Norway to take part in the rescue mission.

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A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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