Accident Örnen Free Hydrogen Balloon unregistered, Wednesday 14 July 1897
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Date:Wednesday 14 July 1897
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Örnen Free Hydrogen Balloon
Owner/operator:S.A. Andrées Polarexpedition
Registration: unregistered
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Franz Josef Land -   Arctic Ocean
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:Danes Island, Svalbard, Norway.
Destination airport:Kvitøya, Norway (on foot from crash site)
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Salomon August Andrée was a Swedish polar explorer who hypothesised that it could be possible to guide the direction of a balloon using weights and guide ropes, and that such a balloon could be used on an expedition to the North Pole.

With only minimal experience flying a balloon over long distances, and following a failed launch attempt in 1896, Andrée and his two expedition members, Knut Frænkel and Nils Strindberg, launched a hydrogen balloon named "Örnen" on July 11th 1897 from Danes Island in Svalbard, Norway. The design of the "Örnen" balloon and its drag rope steering system had been inadequately tested prior to the expedition. Shortly after launch, the balloon lost most of its guide ropes and the crew was forced to jettison most of its ballast to avoid crashing, turning it from a supposedly controllable airship into an ordinary free flight hydrogen balloon. Due to the loss of its guide ropes and ballast the balloon became unstable and reached higher altitudes than intended, at which much of its hydrogen was lost through the holes of the envelope's stitching. The balloon managed to sustain a free flight for over 10 hours during which the crew was forced to jettison its remaining ballast. Eventually the balloon drifted down, continually bumping into the ground for a further 41 hours until it lost its bouancy due to the envelope being weighted down by icing.

After their forced landing, Andrée, Frænkel and Strindberg broke up their balloon and fashioned makeshift sleds out of it to carry their supplies. They managed to set foot on Kvitøya island in Svalbard on October 6th 1897, over four months after their forced landing, but appear to have succumbed to the conditions some time after October 8th 1897. The remains of the three expedition members, their final camp, and diaries and photographs chronicling their expedition were discovered on August 6th 1930 by the Norwegian Bratvaag Expedition.


4. Jenaer Volksblatt 23 August 1930


S. A. Andrée and Knut Frænkel with the balloon on the pack ice, photographed by the third expedition member, Nils Strindberg. The exposed film for this photograph and others from the failed 1897 expedition was recovered in 1930. Eagle-crashed The path followed by the 1897 expedition: north by balloon from Danes Island, then south on foot to Kvitøya Andreeexpedition

Revision history:

24-Feb-2020 19:33 Anon Added
14-May-2020 15:42 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Source, Damage]
12-Jul-2021 08:13 Dr. John Smith Updated [Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Category]
06-Sep-2022 14:12 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Departure airport, Embed code, Narrative]

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