On May 3, 1952, a ski-equipped C-47 "Dakota" landed at the geographic North Pole. The trek marked a significant milestone in U.S. Air Force history as Lt. Col. Joseph O. Fletcher became the first Airman to stand at the top of the world. While the flight itself was historic, the U.S. needed an early warning radar system to warn of incoming Soviet aircraft over the North Pole. Shortly after Fletcher's historic flight, the U.S. and Canada began construction on what would become the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line. The mission of early warning and defense continues today as Airmen assigned to the North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) stand watch. Ever vigilant, these Airmen represent the first line of defense against a potential attack coming from the north.