This article is for quizzes on Thursday November 10th...

Salomon August Andrée (18 October 1854, Gränna, Småland – October 1897, Kvitøya, Arctic Norway), during his lifetime most often known as S. A. Andrée, was a Swedish engineer, physicist, aeronaut and polar explorer who died while leading an attempt to reach the Geographic North Pole by hydrogen balloon. The balloon expedition was unsuccessful in reaching the Pole and resulted in the deaths of all three of its participants.
Supported by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and funded by people like King Oscar II and Alfred Nobel, his polar exploration project was the subject of enormous interest and was seen as a brave and patriotic scheme. The North Pole expedition made a first attempt to launch the balloon Örnen (The Eagle) in the summer of 1896 from Danes Island, an island in the west of the Svalbard Archipelago, but the winds did not permit the expedition to start. When Andrée next tried, on 11 July 1897, together with his companions engineer Knut Frænkel and photographer Nils Strindberg (a second cousin of playwright August Strindberg), the balloon did set off and sailed for 65 hours. This was not directed flight, however; already at the lift-off the gondola had lost two of the three sliding ropes that were supposed to drag on the ice and thus function as a kind of rudder (this was observed by the ground crew). And within ten hours of lift-off, they were caught by powerful winds from a storm raging in the area. The heavy winds continued and, together with the rain creating ice on the balloon, impeded the flight. It is likely that Andrée realized before the flight ended that they would never come near the pole.

For these reasons they were forced down onto the ice, though the landing was conducted in a semi-controlled way rather than actually crashing. They had covered 295 miles (475 km) and floundered on the pack ice. The expedition was well equipped for travelling on the ice (three sledges and a boat) and had supplies for three months; also there were three deposits in northern Svalbard and one in Franz Josef Land. They set off eastbound for the latter, but after a week they had moved west due to the currents which moved the ice. They then changed direction towards northern Svalbard; movement was slowed down by ice drift and by the craggy surface of the pack ice. The three had to pull the sledges themselves, and despite good reserves of food, added to by their shooting polar bears, the efforts against the moving, uneven ice wore them out.

They reached land in early October after over two months on the ice, setting foot on Kvitøya (White Island), just east of Svalbard. They perished there, probably within two weeks after landfall. Most modern writers agree that Nils Strindberg died within a week of arrival: he was buried among the rocks (though no marker was placed on his grave) while the other two men were later found in the tent.

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