An Arctic Icarus

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S. A. Andrée and Knut Frænkel with the crashed balloon, photographed by the third expedition member, Nils Strindberg, 1897, recovered in 1930

In an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon, engineer and aeronaut S. A. Andrée, accompanied by engineer Knut Frænkel, and photographer Nils Strindberg took off from Spitsbergen, Norway on July 11, 1897. They flew for 65 hours, but a series of unfortunate events including flying directionless into heavy storms, they crash-landed onto pack ice in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

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The explorers minutes before takeoff of their disastrous balloon expedition on July 11, 1897.

They had flown about 495 km, and spent the next three months attempting to head back over frozen terrain, eventually landing on the deserted Arctic island of Kvitøya sometime in October. The three of them died there and their whereabouts were a mystery until 1930 when their bodies (and Strindberg’s photo plates) were found by chance. It is said that Andree ignored many potential flaws in his plan, including that the balloon had come from Paris directly after being made, had never been tested, and was showing serious signs of leaking. He also ignored concerns that his devised method of steering the balloon with a series of weighted ropes might not be as effective as he claimed (which turned out to be true).

Two Horse, One Horse, No Horse 

The Lumière brothers demonstrated their invention of the cinématographe, the all-in-one camera, developer, and projector, to scientists July 11, 1895

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Harry Kellar’s “Levitation of Princess Karnac” poster, Strobridge Lithography Co., 1893.
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Night Scene, Paris 1913. Boris Grigoriev

Their first film is 46 seconds and is called Sortie de l’Usine Lumière de Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon). This video shows all three versions, released about a year apart, in 1895, 1896, and 1897 respectively. Each version is often referred to by the number of horses seen in the shot.

Magician Harry Kellar was born July 11, 1849.  Apparently, he was known as the “Dean of Magic,” and specialized in illusions that involved the use of apparatuses. Also, he talked Harry Houdini out of attempting to catch a bullet. Also if you click on that link, there is a picture of the two of them that makes Kellar look an awful lot like Houdini’s ventriloquist dummy.

Illustrator H.M. Brock was born July 11, 1875; followed by astronomer and author of Astronomy for Young Folks Isabel Martin Lewis in 1881; Russian painter Boris Grigoriev, in 1886; and writer E.B. White, in 1899. I trust you own The Elements of Style, yes?

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from The Elements of StyleStrunk & White, 1918
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Vasilisa the Beautiful, illustration by Ivan Biliban,  Russian fairy tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev

Writer Alexander Afanasyev was born July 11, 1826. He published 8 volumes of Russian fairytales and folktales.

Chester Gilette murdered Grace Brown on July 11, 1906, inspiring Theodore Dreiser‘s An American Tragedy. Also on July 11; Big Ben rang for the first time in 1859, and Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Remember back before there was a musical, and we all knew about those two was from the milk commercial?

Okay, I have to wrap this up, it isn’t even July 11th anymore.

Affirmation for your morning: It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.

Hair of the dog that bit you: sheepdog

Number of horses in the shot: 1

Tasks: settle a kitten war, or two, or three and watch a trip to the moon

Published by Guinevere Han Derpants

Writer. Not waving but drowning. Don't worry, help is probably on the way.

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