Fjord and Amundsen in the centre of Ny Ålesund
In the centre of Ny Ålesund, the bust of Roald Amundsen looks into the distance, not north or south, the directions which he faced for much of his life, but eastwards towards an old mast on the tundra just outside the station. It was from here in May 1926, that Amundsen, with 8 Norwegians, 6 Italians and an American, flew the airship Norge over the North Pole to Teller, Alaska, and became the first to reach both geographic poles, along with Oscar Wisting, who had accompanied him to the South Pole.
Amundsen's mast with Kongsfjorden behind
Amundsen had made an attempt using aeroplanes the year before, but was forced to land on the ice at 87º north and the party of 6 then had to build a runway over the pack ice on starvation rations in order to fly the one working plane, the N-25, back to Ny Ålesund.
In 1928 the Italian Umberto Nobile, who had designed and then piloted the Norge, was attempting to reach the pole again, with an Italian crew. The Italia had reached the pole and was returning to