b. Lauro, Italy, 1885
d. Rome, Italy, 1978
Italian aeronautical engineer and
aeronautical science professor; designer of semi-rigid airships including the Norge and Italia.
Promoted from Colonel to General in the Italian air force following the Norge north pole flight,
forced to resign following the Italia disaster. Spent five years in the
Italian airship designer and pilot Umberto Nobile took part in two flights over the North Pole, one in
The Norge [meaning
After a safe landing in Teller in which the Norge was undamaged, the airship was deflated and dismantled. Originally plans called for the airship to be sold back to the Italian government after completion of the flight; however the Norge unfortunately fell prey to souvenir hunters from Teller and was more or less destroyed.
Following the Norge
flight a bitter dispute--that was played out in the world press--broke out
between Amundsen and Nobile
over who should receive credit for leading the expedition. As a result Nobile returned to
On June 23,
One additional note: both the Norge and Italia flights flew over the North Pole but did
not land. Well-publicized plans to land and leave a scientific team from the
Italia at the North Pole were vague at best and failed to materialize. However,
some publications incorrectly identify either or both flights, as well as
Byrd's 1926 airplane flight, with having landed at the North Pole. It was not
until 1937 that four 4-engine cargo planes from the Russian SP-1 expedition
THE ITALIA'S DISASTER
In 1928, Nobile
The Italia carried a crew of 16. At the time of the crash, nine crewmembers--including Nobile--were in the main cabin gondola and were thrown onto the ice. One additional crewmember was in the rear engine gondola and was also thrown to the ice, but was found dead. Six crewmembers were inside the envelope and disappeared when the envelope, relieved of the weight of the gondola, floated away in free-flight. Their remains were never found. Remark-ably, a number of supplies, including a radio and a tent, were also thrown to the ice. The radio eventually allowed survivors to establish contact with the outside world. Survivors used a red dye to paint red stripes on the tent to make it more visible from the air and the site became known in the extensive press coverage as the Red Tent.
The Rescue Operations. The Italia crash sparked the first
massive air-sea rescue operation in the Far North. Ultimately five countries
sent planes, pilots, and ships to the
The following is a brief chronology of rescue operations related to the Italia tragedy:
Once radio contact was established
with Italia survivors and rescue operations were underway, the focus
shifted to a search for Roald Amundsen
who with five others in a French Latham seaplane had disappeared on a flight
from Troms° in northern
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