Joseph O. Fletcher

Joseph Otis Fletcher
Born (1920-05-16)May 16, 1920
Ryegate, Montana
Died July 6, 2008(2008-07-06) (aged 88)
Sequim, Washington
Education University of Oklahoma
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Alaska (Ph.D. 1979)
Known for Polar explorer
Spouse(s) Caroline Sisco Howard (m. 1949)
Parent(s) Clarence Bert Fletcher (1884-1944)

Joseph Otis Fletcher (May 16, 1920 July 6, 2008) was an American Air Force pilot and polar explorer.[1]


He was born outside of Ryegate, Montana on May 16, 1920 to Clarence Bert Fletcher (1884-1944). The family moved to Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl.[1]

Fletcher started studying at the University of Oklahoma and then continued his studies in meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduation, he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and eventually became the deputy commanding officer of the 4th Weather Group, United States Air Force, stationed in Alaska.[2]

He married Caroline Sisco Howard on October 15, 1949.[1]

On March 19, 1952, his team landed with a C-47 aircraft, modified to have both wheels and skis, on a tabular iceberg in the Arctic Ocean and established a weather station there, which remained manned for 22 years before the iceberg broke up.[3] The station was initially known just as "T-3", but soon renamed "Fletcher's Ice Island".

On May 3, 1952, pilot William P. Benedict and Fletcher as co-pilot[4] flew that plane to the North Pole, along with scientist Albert P. Crary, to become the first Americans to land and set foot on the exact geographic North Pole. Unknown to Fletcher and his team, a Soviet expedition had previously landed three Lisunov Li-2s at the pole on April 23, 1948.[5][6]

Fletcher left the Air Force in 1963. In later years, he held various management positions in meteorological institutions, including a post as director of the NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR).

He received a doctorate from University of Alaska in 1979.[1]

He retired in 1993. In 2005, he was awarded the honorary membership of the American Meteorological Society.

He died on July 6, 2008 in Sequim, Washington at age 88.[1] He was buried in Resthaven Memorial Park in Shawnee, Oklahoma.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Joseph Otis Fletcher". Archived from the original on 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2012-11-24. Joseph Fletcher was born outside of Ryegate, Montana, on May 16, 1920 the son of Clarence Bert Fletcher and Margaret Mary Mathers. ...
  2. "Meteorologists To Hear Colonel". Baltimore Sun. September 18, 1952. Retrieved 2012-11-24. Joseph O. Fletcher, deputy commanding officer of the 4th Weather Group, United States Air Force, will address the first meeting of the Baltimore chapter of the ...
  3. Mark Nuttall (2012). Encyclopedia of the Arctic. The history of US drifting stations began with the T3 station, set up on an ice island in March 1952 by Joseph O. Fletcher of ...
  4. The original article in the The Polar Times stated that Fletcher was the pilot, but in the Fall/Winter 1997 issue of the Polar Times, following a personal communication from Mr. Fletcher, a correction appeared stating that Benedict had been in charge of that flight. This is also confirmed by the interview Brian Shoemaker conducted with Fletcher in 1997 (link below).
  5. Concise chronology of approach to the poles, Scott Polar Research Institute
  6. Pala, Christopher (2002). The Oddest Place on Earth: Rediscovering the North Pole. Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse. pp. 227–228.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/19/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.