The dreams of Columbus and the Cabots, of Gilbert and Hudson, thwarted by the inconvenient location of America, are likely to be fulfilled by the modern ingenuity which finds land no obstacle to rapid trasportation. The "Northwest Passage", which lured countless mariners to peril and hardship, may now be opened by the persistent navigators of the air.
In Lakehurst, a powerful dirigible is under construction, intended to sail over the Pole to Europe. Naval officers on board will complete the map of the vast polar spaces by means of photography. And regular commerce across the Pole is looked for soon after.
The shortest route from England to Japan at present measures 9000 miles, by steamer and the trans-Siberian railway. Over the North Pole it would be 6000 miles, saving one-third of the tremendous journey. In the summer, one will leave England in the early morning, and reach the land of the "midnight sun" before evening, and from there almost to Japan, enjoy broad daylight. This is, of course, a great advantage to the flier. But best of all, from the point of view of the promoter, there can be no competition from railroads, steamers, bicycles or automobiles. Across the oceans, flying craft must compete with the swift, sure liners. Over land, railroads continue to monopolize most of the traffic. But across the frozen areas of the polar regions, the aircraft must be unchallenged, unless, as suggested by Simon Lake, the submarine provides some grotesque rivalry:
Already, the fantastic imaginings of Jules Verne have been largely realized. Fis schedule of "Around the world in eighty days" has been reduced by more than half; and it only remains for an arctic explorer to reach the North Pole, run around it in a few seconds and break another world's record. But the plan of an arctic route from continent to continent should open up sound commercial possibilities. Before long plans for the "upper passage" should be accomplished.