Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Silas Christofferson and Roald Amundsen -- December 1, 2009

"Silas Christofferson, in his two-wheel hydroplane, giving aviation instruction on San Francisco bay to Roald Amundsen, discoverer of the South Pole. Silas the Soarer has designed and built two flying-boats for Roald the Rover's scientific purposes in the Northwest Passage." A hydroplane is a flying boat. "Two wheels" refers to dual controls.

Silas Christofferson was a pioneering aviator and airplane designer from Oregon, who was killed in a crash in 1915. Roald Amundsen was a polar explorer who disappeared in 1928 while searching for survivors of Umberto Nobile's airship Italia. Amundsen had made the first voyage through the Northwest Passage in the ship Gjøa, which was on display at the ocean end of Golden Gate Park from 1909 to 1972. She is now in Oslo, Norway. Note Amundsen's life vest.

This image is from the June, 1914 issue of Sunset Magazine. It illustrated a story in the "Interesting Westerners" section entitled "The Birdman Who Mastered the Tehachapi," describing the first flight over the mountain range, done by young Christofferson.

President Obama spoke at West Point today about the war in Afghanistan. He
rebutted Republican allegations that he had been dawdling about a decision, and he stated that we were distracted by the war in Iraq. He wants to send 30,000 more troops, but with a time-limit and a plan.

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