Irish Antarctic explorer Tom Crean took to the skies last weekend as his image was put on the tail fin of a brand new aircraft for airline Norwegian.
The portrait appears on one of Norwegian’s brand new 737MAX aircraft which made its first transatlantic flight from Belfast International Airport on Saturday.
Norwegian has always honoured iconic figures on the tails of its aircraft, featuring personalities who symbolise the spirit of Norwegian through innovation, pioneering achievement and inspiring others.
The new 737MAX aircraft, with Crean’s image, will serve new transatlantic routes from Cork, Shannon and Dublin which began earlier this month.
“We are delighted to honour our grandfather’s bravery and courage by bringing his name and exploits to Norwegian’s many US and European customers. As our family continues Tom Crean’s legacy with our own Antarctic exploits, we wish Norwegian the very best in their new endeavours,” said the Crean family.
Born in County Kerry in 1877, Crean joined the Royal Navy aged just 15, quickly becoming recognised as an accomplished sailor.
In 1901, a chance encounter with Robert Falcon Scott saw Crean join Captain Scott’s ship ‘Discovery’ for an exploration into the unchartered Antarctica waters.
It would become the first of several polar expeditions undertaken by Crean that led him to become known as one of Ireland’s greatest Antarctic explorers.
It was during one of these missions that Crean undertook his ‘Impossible march’ and what became recognised as the greatest act of bravery in Antarctic exploration history. Having been on the march for 1,500 miles, one of Crean’s companions collapsed 35 miles from safety.
Crean volunteered to go for help, completing a final 18 hour leg of the journey alone through sub-zero temperatures. Crean’s solo exploits saved his companion and saw him awarded The Albert Medal for his heroism by King George.
Crean would also go on to receive the Polar Medal three times for his Antarctic endeavours. Crean’s modest and humble personality meant that it is only in recent years that his extraordinary career received widespread public recognition, including a bestselling book about his life and even a Guinness TV advert created in his honour.
Nicknamed the ‘Irish Giant’ for his strength and stature as well as his leadership qualities, the airline feel that he perfectly captures the essence of Norwegian’s tailfin heroes.
“It is fantastic to see our first Irish tailfin hero take to the skies on our new MAX aircraft. Tom Crean is an unsung hero and a truly inspirational figure so it is a great honour to have him adorn our aircraft and become our first ever Irish tail fin hero,” Thomas Ramdahl, Chief Commercial Officer, said.