In the 19th century, there was a race between various explorers and their nations to be the first to reach the North Pole. That quest was finally accomplished by Robert Peary in 1909, or possibly it was Matthew Henson, or even Frederick Cook in 1908. Those expeditions followed many others that were unsuccessful. The luckier of those failed expeditions turned back at some point. In 1897, S. A. Andrée had the bright idea to just fly to the North Pole using the only available air vehicle of the time, a balloon. What could possibly go wrong? Andrée was not a seasoned explorer of the Arctic or anywhere else. He was a balloonist, and was very enthusiastic (and naive) about the possibilities of flight. The three-man Arctic balloon expedition set off from Svalbard in July of that year, determined to bring glory to Sweden by reaching the North Pole. They were not seen again until 1933.
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