Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Umberto Nobile (January 21, 1885 - July 30, 1978) was a Italian aeronautical engineer and Arctic explorer. Nobile is notable for having piloted the plane that made the first sighting of the North Pole, but he was more famous for his airship flights.
On May 11, 1926, alongwith Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his American sponsor Lincoln Ellsworth, he left for Alaska in the airship Norge also designed by him. They flew over the pole and landed in Alaska two days later. This "Rome to Nome" flight resulted in controversy between Nobile and Amundsen as to who deserved the credit for the expedition.
Nobile returned to the north as undisputed leader with another airship, Italia. The Italia expedition began May 22, 1928, but ended in a crash on the ice the next day. The first international polar rescue effort resulted and a month later Nobile was airlifted to Spitsbergen, headquarters of the search effort. Nobile believed he could direct the rescue of his remaining companions better from Spitsbergen, but when the rescue pilot returned to get the others, he himself crashed. Nobile was accused of abandoning his men and spent the rest of his life defending himself.
Amundsen died flying to Spitsbergen to take part in the search.
The story of this disastrous expedition is recounted in the movie The Red Tent .
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