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To the Klondike by Balloon, 1898

Dr. Antony Varicle

The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California), March 23, 1898

To the Klondike by Balloon, 1898

    An expedition under the direction of M. Varicle, as mechanical engineer and experienced aerial traveler, is about starting from France for the United States to inaugurate a system of quick transportation between the Alaskan sea coast and the Klondike district, the intention being primarily to carry speedy relief to the hungry people at Dawson. The party sails from Havre for New York, whence they will proceed by way of San Francisco to Juneau, Alaska, which has been selected as a base of operations.

    The expedition is provided with a number of balloons or aerostats of M. Varicle's own designing, after the plan of the one shown below, the "Alaska," which is to be the pilot of the aerial fleet proposed to be launched forth on the venturesome journey.

    M. Varicle has for many years been an ardent student of aeronautics, and has made a number of successful trips tnrough the clouds. Lately, by means of a contrivance of his own, he has been enabled to go from one given point to another hundreds of miles distant against unfavorable winds. On one trip from Paris to Dieppe, France, 160 miles, the wind was from the northwest during the whole time, yet he made the goal without much mishap or much delay. On another journey from Paris to Hamburg last year his machine was in the air for twenty-eight hours, going continuously and regularly in the desired direction.

To the Klondike by Balloon, 1898

    The peculiar contrivance which enabled him to accomplish these feats and on which he largely bases his hopes of success in the present venture is called the "autolesteur," or "ballast regulator," and is not yery unlike the one employed by Professor Andree on his last trip. Its character and the attachments to the sail, as well as the method of using it, are shown in the accompanying cut. By lengthening or shortening the ropes and thus regulating the strain thereon the sail can be kept at any desired angle to the wind, and a regular course steered, as on board of a ship. Then, too, by hauling in on the ropes the balloon can be brought to the earth without wasting any gas.

    M. Varicle feels every confidence in the success of his venture, and his plans of construction and procedure have been approved by Messrs. Terwagne, Ricard, Besac and other aerostatic experts of France. They count on little trouble after getting over the Chilkoot summit, as the prevailing winds beyond are very regular at this season of the year.

    The pilot "Alaska" will start first, and others will follow in quick succession. Each one will carry some 3500 pounds of condensed provisions for the needy Dawsonites.