Excerpt from The Ice Balloon: a doomed journey in the archtic

by Alec Wilkinson

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For most of the morning, they travelled through mist. The temperature was just above freezing. At about three in the afternoon, the balloon sank so low that the car twice struck the ice. During the next few hours, the fog enclosed the men and the balloon struck the surface continually—“8 touches in 30m,” “bumpings every 5th minute,” and “paid visits to the surface and stamped it about every 50 meters”—nevertheless, “humour good,” Andrée wrote. He sent Strindberg and Fraenkel to rest, and, keeping watch, wrote, “It is not a little strange to be floating here above the Polar Sea. To be the first that have floated here in a balloon. How soon, I wonder, shall we have successors? . . . We think we can well face death, having done what we have done. Isn’t it all, perhaps, the expression of an extremely strong sense of individuality which cannot bear the thought of living and dying like a man in the ranks, forgotten by coming generations? Is this ambition?”

Retrieved from: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/04/19/the-ice-balloon