ANCHORAGE -- A ski-wheeled Air Force C-47 has made the first landing in history at the geographic North Pole.
The landing was made Saturday after a 135-mile flight from T-3, a floating ice island in the Arctic occupied by 3 Air Force men as a weather observation station last March, the Alaskan Air Command announced.
The flight was made in connection with the Air Force's polar expedition "Icicle Island" and to carry out scientific observations of ocean depth and gravity field strength in the polar area. Maj. Gen. William D. Old. head of the Alaskan command, said.
Following the history-making landing, Lt. Col. William P. Benedict of Paradise, Calif. pilot of the C-47, radioed: "Operation instructions carried out. No sweat."
Benedict and his co-pilot, Lt. Col. Joseph Fletcher, spent 3 hours and 10 minutes at the pole and then flew back to T-3. Fletcher was one of the 3 inhabitants at the bleak outpost about 60 miles from the top of the world.
The landing' was another step in the recent polar exploration activities conducted by the United States. Planes of "Operation Ski Jump," the Navy's mission to the Arctic, had flown over the pole while conducting oceanographic and meteorological tests.
The Navy also had landed planes within only a few miles of the pole in experiments to test the strength of the icepack.