In this two-part series, we examine the tragic events of the 1928 Italia airship disaster during an expedition to the Arctic, and the disastrous attempt to rescue its missing crew
On the morning of May 23, 1928, the Italia - an N-class semi-rigid airship operated by the Regia Aeronautica - departed Kings Bay for the North Pole. Sponsored by the Italian Geographical Society, the voyage was the last of three polar flights, each exploring a different area of the Arctic region. Led by Umberto Nobile, the same man who had designed the aircraft, the expedition had received vital funding from a private committee in Milan, as well as logistical support from the Regina Marina.
Following his commission into the military during the First World War, Nobile had overseen the development and construction of new airship designs. These types had already been deployed to profound effect by the Corpo Aeronautico Militare, for bombing and reconnaissance missions during the 1911 Italo-Turkish War.