Is north of the North Pole south?
To the ancient Romans, it was Ultima Thule, and to me it seemed about as Ultima as a place can get. Luddite travel snobs often complain that in these days of lightening swift transportation, travel no longer holds the surprises and adventures that it did back…When? In the days of chariots? Stage coaches? Frigates? Early railroads and crank-up autos?
But on Labor Day weekend 1960, air travel held a big enough surprise for me: Flying from Copenhagen to Tokyo, I spent two-and-a-half unexpected days ten miles north of the magnetic North Pole. It marked the start of a four-month tour mostly through Asia and the Middle East to gather material for my book, City Portraits: A guide to 60 of the World’s Great Cities. Because I was doing this in cooperation with Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), I departed Copenhagen to fly the Polar Route to Tokyo, a 26-hour flight pioneered by SAS in 1954 and by 1960 serviced by the commodious 4-engine DC-7C.