First Flight Covers for the First Regularly Scheduled Commercial Airline Flights
over the North Pole by SAS Scandanavian Airlines between Copenhagen and Los Angeles
First Flight Cover Addressed to Lyngby, Denmark with 30 ore franking
First Flight Cover Addressed to Los Angeles with 1 krone franking
On November 15, 1954, SAS DC-6B airliners departed from Copenhagen and Los Angeles on the first regularly scheduled commercial flights over the north pole. Earlier experimental flights resulted in the establishment of a special polar navigation system to overcome challenges in navigation in the polar regions where compasses were unreliable and modifications to the aircraft to allow for refueling in sub-zero temperatures with limited airport facilities. The westbound "Helge Viking" (Flight Number SK 931) made the first commercial flight over the North Pole before crossing paths with its eastbound sister plane "Leif Viking" (LN-LMP) that was on its way from Los Angeles to Copenhagen on the same route. Mmore than 10 000 spectators viewed the departure from Copenhagen and the arrival of the flight from Los Angeles the following day.
The covers shown above are presumed to have been on the eastbound flight with postmarks at "SDR. Stromfjord" (Kangerlussuaq, Greenland) on November 15th and "Kobenhavn K" on November 16th. Presumably the cover with a Los Angeles address would found its way to its destination (and point of origin?) on a subsequent flight. It is franked for the 1 Krone rate for the air mail letter to the US in 1954 consisting of 60 ore UPU letter rate plus 40 ore air mail surcharge for 5 grams of weight. It is interesting that two polar bear definitives of 1938 have been used on these covers rather than the more mundane Frederik IX one krone definitive of August 15, 1950--The new thirty ore definitive was not issued until October 29, 1959.
"Complete First Leg of Transpolar Flight."