Traveler Editor at Large Christopher Elliott is the magazine’s consumer advocate and ombudsman. Reader Question: My flight was canceled and the airline wants to put me on a later flight—as in the day after tomorrow.
About Intelligent TravelNational Geographic believes that to know the world is to change it. National Geographic explorers have been using planes, helicopters, drones, and more to explore their world for more than a hundred years. Meave Leakey and her daughter, Louise (pictured here), couldn’t do their work with human fossils in the remote Turkana Basin without a plane to get them there. While most botanists might choose to capture plant life from ground level, Mark Olson, pictured here, has his eye on the sky. In his search for hidden artifacts and indicators of ancient civilization in Jordan's Khirbat Faynan, Tom Levy used new cyber-archaeology methods that included large-scale 3-D modeling, onsite chemical characterization tools, and this special helium balloon for geo-referenced digital photography. Dereck and Beverly Joubert use planes and helicopters to capture photographs and film of leopards, lions, and other African wildlife. On May 9, 1926, radio waves around the world hummed with the news that American naval pilot Richard Evelyn Byrd had just flown a three-engine Fokker monoplane over the North Pole, becoming the first man to reach it by air.
Albert Lin in 2010 and 2011 conducted a noninvasive survey in the region of the lost tomb of Genghis Khan.
In 1932 the National Geographic Society awarded its Special Medal to Amelia Earhart, the first woman to make a solo transatlantic crossing. National Geographic photographer and explorer George Steinmetz has had many adventures in a motorized paraglider—essentially a motor with a parachute that allows him to shoot photos from as low as 30 feet and as high as 6,500 feet. Alexander Graham Bell, President of the National Geographic Society from 1897 to 1904, watches the first flight of a wheel-shaped kite he designed. At the heart of our explorers program is the quest for knowledge through exploration and the people who make it possible. Browse our different areas of exploration and discover the fascinating people behind the projects.
A selection of portraits from Photo Ark, a project to document the world's animals before they disappear. Status: Least ConcernThe strong claws of the Guianan cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola rupicola) enable it to nest on rocky Andean cliffs. Status: Critically EndangeredThe largest flying bird in North America, the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) has a wingspan of nearly ten feet.
Status: Least ConcernThe naturally adorned face of the spectacled owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) can be seen from southern Mexico to Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. Status: Least ConcernThe red and green pigments of the red-crested turaco (Tauraco erythrolophus) contain copper. Status: Least ConcernA colorfully shiny species of starling, the purple glossy starling (Lamprotornis purpureus) inhabits northern African savannas and woodlands.


Status: Least ConcernWith an ability to remain submerged longer than most diving ducks, the spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri) also forages on the summer tundra by dabbling in shallow water or walking on land for insects and grasses.
Status: Near Threatened The beak of the Javan rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros silvestris) lends it a likeness to the horned land mammal. Status: Least ConcernThe smallest of the penguins, little penguins (Eudyptula minor) stand just ten inches tall, with white bellies and slate-blue plumage on their backs.
Status: Least ConcernAmong New World vultures, only the king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), pictured here, and the Andean condor have these elaborate skin folds and fleshy wattles.
Status: Least ConcernThe purple-banded sunbird (Nectarinia bifasciata) prefers the coastal bush habitats, mangroves, and lowland evergreen forests of southern Africa. Status: Least ConcernLook closely to see the pink ear of the pink-eared duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus).
Status: EndangeredThe orange air sac on the neck of the male Attwater’s prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) delivers a powerful booming sound during mating season heard a half-mile around.
The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multi-year effort with photographer Joel Sartore to photograph all captive species and save these animals before many disappear. When Spirit canceled Annika Sundin’s flight from New York to Miami, the model accepted the refund and bought a ticket to Miami on a different airline, but at a higher cost. Ask your ticket agent to “endorse” your ticket to another airline flying to your destination. But it isn’t required to, and the less you paid for the ticket, the less likely you are to get an endorsement.
Next flight out was proposed 3 days later.Since we traveled back home with a rent a car we requested a refund for the return flight.
We're on the front lines of travel that illuminates, celebrates, and preserves irreplaceable places—and we're taking you along for the ride.
Meave elaborates on their early years of flying together: “We’ve always had an airplane associated with the project.
Since plants collect light for photosynthesis from above, Olson has used a powered paraglider to gain an aerial perspective of dry tropics in Mexico, seeking an understanding of why a given plant has a particular shape. Through a collection of photographs taken with his kite camera in 2010, Anand Varma (pictured here) set out to document the mallines and, by illustrating their beauty and biodiversity, communicate the importance of protecting the landscape from urban development and agriculture.
The tools helped the archaeologists paint a detailed picture of what this abandoned city would have looked like as long as 4,700 years ago. Dereck explains how aircrafts improve the duo’s efficiency: “The truth is, if I didn't fly my own plane I would not have been able to get us into places in Botswana that are truly amazing.
Taking off from a base in Spitsbergen, Norway, he apparently made the round-trip in 16 hours, narrowly winning a race with the dirigible Norge, piloted by Roald Amundsen, which crossed the Pole on the way to Alaska on May 13. Essential to the research were the images that came back from a microcopter—here being launched by a member of the team—that was deployed over the Valley of the Khans. After receiving the medal, Earhart humbly remarked, "My flight has added nothing to aviation.


In one study, Sladen taught predetermined migration routes to family-size groups of wild-hatched trumpeter swans by conditioning them to follow an ultralight aircraft (he served as wildlife consultant on the film Fly Away Home, which fictionalized a similar undertaking).
When he resigned as the Society’s president, he said he wanted to devote more time to his experiments with kites, but he probably also wished to allow son-in-law Gilbert H. Feeding mostly on fruit, the bird is important to its environment as the seeds are passed through its digestive tract and scattered on the ground. A captive-breeding program is slowly restoring the species, its numbers reduced to a few dozen by egg poaching and poisons in the 1970s. The abundant bird has been spotted at elevations as high as 4,000 feet but mainly lives in lower lands.
In flight, its black wings curve toward its head while its white tail feathers with a semicircle of black spread out like a fan. They tend to return to the same breeding site year after year, and juveniles often head back there to breed. The plumage, uniformly dark in most species, is exclusively gold, black, and white-patterned on the king. Blue waxbills (Uraeginthus angolensis) form pairs within small flocks in Southern Africa, and they tend to sleep next to their mates on perches.
The subspecies is endangered by the plowing of its tallgrass prairie habitat and cattle grazing. Louise had first got her pilot’s license and her father, of course, wouldn’t let her fly his airplane, so the first two years we would fly this two-seater plane that belonged to Richard’s brother, and Louise had very few hours on her pilot’s license and we had some quite hairy experiences.” Louise is now an established pilot with plenty of incident-free flights under her belt.
In some cases, we had two camps, one where we were working on leopards, another on lions, [and] the flight between the two was eight minutes long. Their survey used the most advanced technologies to investigate one of the world’s greatest ancient mysteries. After all, literally hundreds have crossed the Atlantic by air, if those who have gone in heavier-than-air and lighter-than-air craft are counted and those who have crossed the North and South Atlantic. There are more than a hundred species of starlings worldwide, and Africa has 22 glossy ones. Even while in flocks, the duck travels in pairs, favoring inland Australian wetlands over the rainier coast.
By locating archaeological sites in this sacred area, the team hopes to enable the conservation of this important landscape.



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