Transpolar flight successfully completed


A commemorative transpolar flight from Alaska to Norway, sponsored by a Dublin aircraft company, has been successfully completed and included a stop at the North Pole.

The flight across the top of the world was made despite constant headwinds, occasional fog and several equipment failures by two aircraft with a crew of three each, including an Irishman, Mr Trevor Henderson (52), a vice-president of Pembroke Capital Ltd, an aircraft financing and leasing company.

Earlier this year the company agreed to mark the first-ever transpolar crossing by an aircraft undertaken by Hubert Wilkins and Ben Eielson in 1928.

The commemorative flight, in two single-engined biplanes, from Anchorage, Alaska to Spitsbergen, a total distance of 3,072 nautical miles, began on April 9th.

The expedition was led by Capt Shane Lundgren (36), an American who works for Air Berlin. Other crew members were Dr Donald Olsen (44), a native Alaskan; Mr Ronald Sheardown (61), an American living in Anchorage; Mr Ferdinand von Baumbach (34), a German; and Mr Robert Mads Anderson (40), an American.

They took off from Anchorage for the high Arctic in Barrow and from there went to the polar flight departure point at Eureka, a weather and research station in Canada's North West Territory, a flight of 14 hours across the frozen Beaufort Sea.

The 17-hour flight to Spitsbergen included a 40-minute stop at the North Pole, where a ceremonial flag was placed. The first plane completed its flight to Spitsbergen on April 13th and the second on the next day following a diversion for fuel to Nord in the extreme north of Greenland where weather conditions were severe.

Capt Lundgren said: "It is a particular honour for us to have followed in the footsteps of our illustrious predecessors and to have carried with us the parka won by Eielson on the original flight which no doubt brought us good fortune."

The aircraft were Antonov AN2s of Russian manufacture with similar generation technology to the Vega which was used in the first flight 70 years ago.

Pembroke Capital Ltd has its offices at Lower Mount Street, Dublin.