Ellsworth, Lincoln


Ellsworth, Lincoln

▪ American explorer
original name  William Linn Ellsworth  
born May 12, 1880, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
died May 26, 1951, New York, New York
 American explorer, engineer, and scientist who led the first trans- Arctic (1926) and trans-Antarctic (Antarctica) (1935) air crossings.

      A wealthy adventurer, Ellsworth was a surveyor and engineer in Canada for five years (1903–08), worked for three years with the U.S. Biological Survey, and served in the U.S. Army in World War I, training as an aviator. In 1924 he led the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) trans-Andean topographic survey from the Amazon River basin to the Pacific shores of Peru.

      Fascinated with polar air exploration, Ellsworth financed and accompanied two such expeditions with the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (Amundsen, Roald). On the first (1925) they reached latitude 87°44′ N in two amphibian planes; an emergency landing without radio caused them to be given up for lost. With 30 days of grim effort, they carved out a takeoff field on the rough polar ice pack, after which one plane, overloaded with the total party of six, returned to Spitsbergen (now Svalbard), off northern Norway. The following year Ellsworth and the Italian explorer Umberto Nobile (Nobile, Umberto) made the first crossing of the North Polar Basin in the dirigible Norge—a 3,393-mile (5,463-km) journey from Spitsbergen to Alaska that won worldwide acclaim. In 1931 Ellsworth made an 800-mile (1,300-km) canoe trip through central Labrador and later that year, for the American Geographical Society, made flights over Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya—Arctic islands north of the Soviet Union.

      In 1935, on the third of four private expeditions to the Antarctic, Ellsworth and Canadian pilot Herbert Hollick-Kenyon flew across the continent from the Antarctic Peninsula to the Little America base on the Ross Ice Shelf; they completed the journey on foot after running out of fuel. The area they covered, including the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, is now named Ellsworth Land and Marie Byrd Land. In 1939 he again flew over Antarctica and named the American Highland in the Indian Ocean quadrant.

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Universalium. 2010.

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