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Joseph Otis Fletcher (May 16, 1920 – July 6, 2008) was an American Air Force pilot and polar researcher.

Born outside of Ryegate, Montana, the family moved to Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. Fletcher started studying at the University of Oklahoma and then continued his studies in meteorology at the MIT. After graduation, he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and eventually became the commander of a weather squadron stationed in Alaska in the late 1940s. On March 19, 1952, his team landed with a C-47 aircraft modified to have both wheels and skis on a tabular iceberg and established a weather station there, which remained manned for 22 years before that iceberg broke up. The station was initially known just as "T-3", but soon renamed "Fletcher's Ice Island". On May 3, 1952, pilot William P. Benedict and Fletcher as co-pilot flew that plane to the North Pole, becoming the first humans to land there and the first humans (together with scientist Albert P. Crary, who flew with them) to set foot on the exact geographical North Pole. (However, some sources credit this achievement instead to a Soviet Union expedition that landed there on 23 April 1948.)

Fletcher left the Air Force in 1963. In later years, he held various management positions in meteorological institutions, including a post as director of the NOAA's Ocean and Atmosphere Research Labs (OAR). He retired in 1993. In 2005, he was awarded the honorary membership of the American Meteorological Society. He died in 2008 in Sequim, Washington.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Joseph O. Fletcher."
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