A Postal History Gallery of Related Events


By Air to the Pole At Last

Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett became the first to fly to the pole when their Ford tri-motor Fokker completed the flight from Kings Bay, Spitzbergen on May 9, 1926. A small packet of mail was franked by a U.S. stamp.
The addressee became concerned that the name change to Ny-Alesund would confuse people and added Norwegian stamps and a "clarifying" postmark to the perfectly valid covers.


From Europe to America Over the Pole


The dirigible NORGE flew over the pole to Teller, Alaska, in 1926 using a multi-national crew. An unofficial mail used cards printed for the 1924 Amundsen flight and a label prepared by the Italian crew.

The reverse side shows another cachet and the autograph of the Norwegian pilot.


A leaflet focusing attention on the importance of the Italian crew of the airship NORGE was dropped during the flight to Spitzbergen. The international rivalry continued throughout the flight.


The Mail was Lost for Nine Years


A packet of 51 letters originating at Ciampino Airport near Rome and apparently intended to be carried over the pole on the NORGE flight was misplaced at Spitzbergen until 1935.


Wilkins and Eielsen Added to Their Experience in Flying Over the Arctic Areas


This first flight from Fairbanks to Barrow continued on a survey leg over the ice for 550 miles before landing at Barrow. Mail carried on the plane was canceled and returned to Fairbanks on the same plane although a storm delayed the return flight until April 7.


Long Range Flights Over the Ice

Hubert Wilkins experimented with aircraft in cold weather conditions as part of a plan to fly to Europe. His 1927 flight from Barrow, Alaska, was a test that ended in abandoning the plane and walking back over a hundred miles of pack ice.

A small number of covers were carried as souvenir mail.


An Air Polar Route to Europe

Hubert Wilkins and Carl Eielsen flew from Barrow, Alaska, to Spitzbergen in 1928 to prove that an air polar route was feasible from east to west.

A small amount of personal mail was carried and stamped on arrival at the Svalbard Radio facility . . .



The Virtually Annual Expeditions


Donald MacMillan led thirty-two expeditions to the Arctic by the time of his death in 1970. Mail is known from many of them, however, identification is often made from the return addresses. Unusual handling appears in the acceptance of a precanceled stamp on a registered letter and acceptance of Canadian stamps by the U.S. Postal Service in 1928.