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Carl Ben Eielson

4/15/2006:

Carl Ben Eielson was a true North Dakota hero. On April 15, 1928, he and Captain George Hubert Wilkins flew a non-stop, 2,200-mile flight over the North Pole. In September that year, the two accomplished a 1,200-mile flight in the Antarctic.

Born July 20, 1897, in Hatton, Carl studied at UND and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Service in 1917. He took a teaching job in Fairbanks, Alaska, knowing how important aviation would become there.

Carl soon bought a plane and began flying supplies and passengers. Alaska’s “Father of Aviation” ran the first airmail route in 1924 and established Alaskan Airways. He died November 9, 1929, while rescuing passengers and cargo from an ice-bound ship.

Carl received the Harmon Trophy as an outstanding aviator in 1929 from President Hoover, was posthumously awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider award in 1997 and, in 1985, was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Sources:

North Dakota Blue Book, 2001-2003

U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet

Polar Pilot: The Carl Ben Eielson Story by Dorothy G. Page, 1992

Brother to the Eagle by Erling Rolfsrud, 1952