National Geographic : 1965 Feb
Comfort of contact with the outside world comes to men in terrible isolation near one end of the earth. Fl0ttum (left) prepares to crank the radio generator for Selnes to broadcast expedition news to their colleague Tor Lundstr0m at Arlis II. Stations as dis tant as South America picked up reports relayed by Lundstr0m. We reasoned that in the first few weeks of deepest cold we would encounter little open water. When we reached Arlis II-if indeed we could find it-the boats would be available for the dash to the Pole in the face of the gradual spring breakup of the Arctic pack. Now, during our regular radio exchanges with Tor, we could hear his cheerful voice coming from ahead of us at Arlis II, urging us on. And then suddenly Arlis II seemed be yond our reach-the Eskimo sleds failed us. Digging and hacking our way through the coastal ice, we had found snow only a minor problem. Now, when the smooth sea ice stretched before us with the promise of speed, our sleds suddenly became snowplows that refused to budge. The ice was covered with a fluffy snow blanket often knee-deep. Over a grim and wordless dinner eaten while we huddled in the sleeping bags that night, I recalled Max Brewer's offer at Point Barrow from the spring a year before-"Let us know if we can help." Within an hour I 274 was on the radio to our colleague Tor Lund str0m at Arlis II. Thus, a day or so later, an Arctic Research Laboratory twin-engine Douglas DC-3 Sky train, one of the famous World War II work horses, with a cargo of light plastic toboggans aboard, sought our position in the sea ice. 1,500-mile Message to Plane 5 Miles Away Finding a small camp in that endless ex panse of blinding white is a major achieve ment. Because the DC-3's radio operated on an aircraft frequency, we could not talk di rectly to the pilot. Instead, we beamed direc tions by what may well be the longest detour in the history of Arctic communications. In the clear polar sky, we sighted the air craft at a distance of six or eight miles, long before the pilot saw us. As he groped blindly for our pinprick of a camp, Sivert Fl0ttum began transmitting on our radio to Tor Lund str0m at Arlis. "Tell him to turn south about 80 degrees."