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Albert II Planning Second Polar Visit

Nov 23, 2007
The Arctic tundra may soon see a second visit from Prince Albert of Monaco. A Russian news agency announced in October that Albert II intends to visit the North Pole in a Russian airship next spring. The expedition will be led by Jean-Louis Etienne, a French explorer famous for becoming the first man to travel to the North Pole alone on foot in 1986. Not only does he have Arctic experience, he crossed the entire continent of Antarctica on foot in 1989 and 1990. He has also sailed around the world, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and climbed Mount Everest.

Their intended vessel will be the Au-30 airship, a unique dirigible built in Moscow by the Russian manufacturer Avgur Russian Air Systems. A dirigible is a buoyant aircraft that is lighter than air. It is steered with rudders and pushed through the air via two 170-horsepower propeller engines. The Au-30 is a multipurpose airship, designed for long-term flights with the capacity for surveillance at low speed and low altitudes, making it an ideal ship with which to survey the North Pole. Other Au-30 airships are being used to survey Russian high-tension wires and Moscow traffic conditions.

The expedition will be the first dirigible flight to the North Pole since famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen made the journey in 1926 with Italian explorer, pilot and engineer Umberto Nobile.

Prince Albert previously visited the North Pole as a part of a dog sled expedition in April 2006. The purpose of his journey was to highlight the importance of research on global warming. He and seven others made a 57-mile trek to the pole, departing from an outpost in Barneo, although the prince noted that the trip was made considerably longer by the formation of ice hills that needed to be climbed along the way. He stated that the trip was very "physically challenging," according to BBC reports.

The voyage was more than just a publicity stunt, as the prince would prove. He established the Albert II Foundation upon his return. The organization is aimed to be "a permanent source of dynamic and innovative actions for environmental protection and sustainable environment," according to the prince.

The foundation aims to focus its efforts on three main areas: climate change, biodiversity and access to drinking water. The foundation feels that serious environmental warning signs "require each of us to act if we are to protect our planet for future generations. We all share the environment; its protection is our duty." Prince Albert stated, "Monaco may not be the biggest country in the world, but I am determined to show it can be among the most innovative in its approaches to the environment."

The 2008 spring expedition to the North Pole will be held in conjunction with the International Polar Year, as declared by the United Nations. The International Polar Year is organized through the International Council for Science and the World Meteorological Organization, and it will consist of over 200 projects involving thousands of scientists from over 60 nations.

The prince's passion for the North Pole seems to run in the family. Prince Albert's great-great-grandfather, Albert I, made four trips to the Arctic nearly a century ago. However, Albert II is the first head of state to make it to the North Pole while still in office.

The prince, age 49, became ruler of Monaco in July 2005 after the death of his father, Prince Rainier.
About the Author
Albert is Prince of Monaco, famous for the Grand Prix, tax haven status and Monte Carlo

Biographical notes for Prince Albert of Monaco can be found at YourMonaco.com

The Monaco guide also has a 5 day weather forecast and today's Monaco weather
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