NAVIGATING TO THE NORTH POLE-A SURFACE TRAVERSE

Major Gerald R. Pitzl, USMCR

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: ON APRIL 20~1-1, 1968 a small group of men on snowmobiles completed a t,raverse across the frozen surface of the Arctic Ocean from Ward Hunt Island to the geographical north pole. This paper goes into detail on the navigation problems encountered and the procedures used. The sun, visible 24 hours a day for the last month of the trip, was used almost exclusively for maintaining direction and determining position. Although several special techniques were used, the basic approach was a straightforward sun-line exercise. At one period of the trip the moon was visible and in an appropriate position for sightings in combination with the sun. However, during the most critical period, the last few days within 89 degrees north latitude, only the sun was available. Achieving a reasonable accurate fix using only one celestial body requires repeated sightings at lengthy time intervals. During the last phase of the expedition our party stopped for two days at one campsight that I estimated to be approximately 10 miles from the goal. During this period hourly sightings were made unt,il a sufficient number of LOPS were plotted to give us the accuracy in position necessary to set out on the final leg to the north pole. We received our “moment of truth” when the planned-for Air Force weather reconnaisance flight, LARK-47, overflew our position confirming the fact that we had achieved the north pole.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 16, Number 1
Pages: 32 - 36
Cite this article: Pitzl, Major Gerald R., USMCR,, "NAVIGATING TO THE NORTH POLE-A SURFACE TRAVERSE", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring 1969, pp. 32-36.
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