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Club Member Art Mortvedt reaches both Poles in the same plane

The Explorers Club is proud to announce the successful solo flight of 2009 Lowell Thomas Award winner Art Mortvedt MN’84.

Having first landed his Polar Pumpkin Cessna 185 exactly at 90 degrees South—the Geographic South Pole—on November 22, 1999, he recently made his bid for 90 degrees North carrying Flag #53.

Mortvedt explains, “On April 6, 2013, I flew over the Geographic North Pole. Ice conditions were too jumbled and problematic to land exactly at 90 degrees north, so I landed approximately 20 miles away from the Geographic North Pole. For me, that’s pretty close. I was not willing to risk everything - the plane, the scientific equipment, years of preparation, the Explorers Club Flag . . . my life, etc. - by attempting to land in the jumbled ice and snow precisely at 90 degrees north.”

As it turns out, another daring aviator—Australian Jon Johanson—flew solo over the North Pole in 2000, and later in 2003 also flew solo over the South Pole in a single engine RV-4 aircraft.

Johanson and his RV-4 parked at McMurdo Station, Antarctica in 2003,
Photo courtesy of

In a surprising twist of fate, Johanson had to borrow 400 gallons of fuel from stranded British aviator Polly Vacher to make his 2003 flight to 90 degrees South, which Mortvedt describes was “the very fuel that I had personally placed on board a ship in Ushuaia, Argentina - fuel that was then transported to McMurdo Station, Antarctica for my friend Polly Vacher.”

Even with this ironic and roundabout assistance, Art’s Polar Pumpkin is still the first Cessna 185 in the world to have been to both Poles, landing at the South and carrying scientific equipment as he flew over the North. In both cases, he was the solo pilot.

For more information on Art and his journeys in the Polar Pumpkin Cessna 185 visit

Art Mortvedt with the Polar Pumpkin Cessna 185 - and Explorers Club Flag #53 - at the drifting Russian Ice Station Barneo, then located approximately 20 miles from the Geographic North Pole

Published by : Kevin Murphy

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste