Outside Magazine, November 1994
This time last year, Norman Vaughan, the huggable 88-year-old polar explorer, was on his way to Antarctica on an expedition to dogsled several hundred miles and then climb Mount Vaughan, the 10,302-foot peak named after him. His plans were scuttled after a DC-6 carrying team members, dogs, and sleds crashed into the ice nine miles shy of the landing strip. One person was injured, and nine dogs were lost (see "Norman's Conquest: The Retreat," Dispatches, April).
This month the never-say-die Vaughan, a member of Admiral Richard E. Byrd's 1928-1930 expedition to the South Pole, is returning to Antarctica to take care of unfinished business. "We've scratched the dog-sledding leg and will just do the climb," he says. But as Vaughan prepares to strap on crampons, his lawyers and those for Steve Allcorn, pilot of the plane that crashed and owner of Allcair, the air-transport company that Vaughan contracted with, are suiting up for battle. Vaughan has claimed that Allcorn's negligence in the cockpit cost him $1,000,000 in lost services and future financial opportunities. Not to be left behind, Allcorn has already sued in U.S. District Court in Dallas, Texas, for an undisclosed amount, charging that the explorer owes him money.
Despite the growing brouhaha, Vaughan seems to be only mildly annoyed. For this month's expedition, Florida real-estate mogul Charles J. Givens has guaranteed him the $150,000 he'll need, and he has booked passage with a different airline.
"I can't wait for my 89th birthday," he says. "I should be at the summit."