ACTUAL HAND-LETTERED AIRPORT SIGN, FROM THE FIRST COMMERCIAL TRANSPOLAR FLIGHT
(DUSTIN, Frederick G.). Airport sign: “Dustin Transpolar Flight.” [Rio de Janeiro: 1968]. Original narrow metal hand-painted sign, white lettering on a red ground, measuring 5 inches by 4-1/2 feet. $1500.
Unique artifact, documenting the historic first commercial round-the-world flight, tracking longitudinally across the two poles and touching down on all seven continents, including Antarctica.
“Frederick G. Dustin was employed as a fuel engineer on the second Byrd Antarctic expedition (1933-35). As with many of the men involved with this expedition, Dustin went on to participate in other important explorations. In 1968 Modern Air Transport chartered a Convair 990A jet aircraft called Polar Byrd I to fly round-the-world on an exotic world tour. The flight carried 60 passengers and eight crew, and [while it] set no speed records, [it] did land on November 22, 1968 on the 10,000-foot ice runway at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica (U.S. Navy) for refueling” (WingNet). Dustin was the president of the Byrd Polar Center in Boston at the time, and encouraged the Center to sponsor the flight. The Center’s letter of solicitation touted this as “the first commercial flight ever to cross both poles and touch down on all continents,” and warned that “frankly, you will endure some discomfort, and may even face some danger.” “Polar Byrd I” was captained by Hal Neff, former pilot of “Air Force One.” Among the passengers was a man named Bellafontaine, who along with 59 others, paid $10,000 to participate in this historic transpolar flight. One stop on the return itinerary was Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the reception committee had erected a hand-painted welcoming sign, reading “Dustin Transpolar Flight.” Bellafontaine became the custodian of this sign.
Only a few minor paint-chips. Fine condition.