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Lockheed Vega back from the Arctic
Title : Lockheed Vega back from the Arctic Lockheed Vega back from the Arctic
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Creator : Wilkins, G. H. (George Hubert), Sir, 1888-1958
Source : Flying the Arctic, plate opposite p. 329
Place Of Creation : New York: London
Publisher : G. P. Putnam's Sons
Date of creation : 1928
Format : Book
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

Following the successful flight across the Arctic from Point Barrow, Alaska to Spitsbergen north of Norway, Hubert Wilkins' Lockheed Vega was returned to New York by ship. Later that same year he would take this aircraft south to the Antarctic.

Following his work in northern Australia for the British Museum, Wilkins returned to the Arctic, where he began a series of flights out across the ice. He was looking for land on which a meteorological station could be based, but found only ice floes. He judged however that there were considerable areas of ice that would bear the weight of a plane.

With his pilot Ben Eielson they did prove that landings were possible in the icepack - they made three - all in varying degrees of visibility. At one stage Wilkins and Eielson were forced to abandon their plane and walk out. They did so using the Eskimo survival skills that Wilkins had acquired during the Stefansson expedition.

In 1928 Wilkins and Eielson left on a flight that would take them from Point Barrow in Alaska to Spitsbergen (Svaalbad) north of Norway. Wilkins navigated, and Eielson flew the plane: conditions were strenuous and at one time they thought they would need to land to avoid an approaching storm cloud. However they reached Spitsbergen after 20 hours flying and were then stormbound for four days.

Their plane was a Lockheed Vega, only the third of its type to be produced. Extra fuel tanks were installed, and there were windows in the floor to allow ground speed and drift observations to be made without opening a trapdoor; this avoided the gust of cold air into the plane which was experienced in earlier planes. The plane's wooden construction also meant that there would be fewer problems with navigation due to the nearness of the magnetic pole.

Wilkins was so impressed with the performance of this plane that he took it to the Antarctic later the same year.

Related names :

Eielson, Carl Ben, 1897-1930

Lockheed Aircraft Corporation

Coverage year : 1928
Further reading :

Wilkins, G. H. (George Hubert), Sir, Flying the Arctic New York: London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1928

Nasht, Simon The last explorer: Hubert Wilkins Australia's unknown hero Sydney: Hodder Australia, 2005

Thomas, Lowell, Sir Hubert Wilkins: his world of adventure; a biography New York, McGraw-Hill [1961]

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