The Norge was a semi-rigid Italian-built airship that carried out what many consider the first verified overflight of the North Pole on May 12, 1926. It was also the first aircraft to fly over the polar ice cap between Europe and America. The expedition was the idea of polar explorer and expedition leader Roald Amundsen, and American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, who along with the Aero Club of Norway financed the trip.Norge was the first N class semi-rigid airship designed by Umberto Nobile. The pressurised envelope was reinforced by metal frames at the nose and tail, connected by a flexible tubular metal keel connecting the two. This was covered by fabric and used as storage and crew space. Three engine gondolas and the separate control cabin were attached to the bottom of the keel. Norge was the first Italian semirigid to be fitted with the cruciform tail fins first developed by the Schütte-Lanz company, and it took Hydrogen as a lifting gas.
Noble Norge

The norge.

The fly to the North poleEdit

The flight to cross the North Pole started off from Rome on March 29, reaching its first destination Oslo, Norway on April 14. It then went via Leningrad to Vadsø in northern Norway, where the airship mast is still standing today. The expedition then crossed the Barents Sea to reach Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard which would be its last stop before crossing the pole. The airship left Ny-Ålesund for the final stretch across the polar ice on May 11.

The 16 man expedition included (in addition to Amundsen) the airship's designer and pilot Umberto Nobile, polar explorer and expedition sponsor Lincoln Ellsworth, as well as polar explorer Oscar Wisting who served as helmsman. Other crew members were 1st Lt. Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen, navigator; 1st Lt. Emil Horgen, elevatorman; Capt. Birger Gottwaldt, radio expert, Fin Malmgren, meteorologist, Fredrik Ramm, journalist; Frithjof Storm-Johnsen, radioman; Flying Lt. Oscar Omdal flight engineer; Italian members of the crew were Chief-Mechanic Cecioni, Rigger Alesandrini, and Motor-Mechanics Arduino, Caratti, and Pomella.

On May 12 at 01.25 (GMT) they reached the North Pole. The Norwegian, American and Italian flags were dropped from the airship onto the ice.

On May 14 the airship reached Teller, Alaska where in view of worsening weather, the decision was made to land rather than continue to Nome.

The three previous claims to have arrived at the North Pole – by Frederick Cook in 1908, Robert Peary in 1909, and Richard E. Byrd in 1926 (just a few days before the Norge) – are all disputed as being either of dubious accuracy or outright fraud. Some of those disputing these earlier claims therefore consider the crew of the Norge to be the first verified explorers to have reached the North Pole.