Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd (1888-1957) was an Antarctic explorer, pioneering aviator, and US Naval Officer. On May 9, 1926, Byrd (the navigator) and Floyd Bennett (the pilot) made what may have been the first airplane trip over the North Pole, in a 15 1/2 hour flight; they flew from King’s Bay, Spitsbergen, Norway, to the North Pole and back again. There is a dispute as to whether or not they actually reached the pole.
Byrd also led four Antarctic land expeditions:
During the 1928-30 expedition, the base called Little America was built on the Ross Ice Shelf; the nearby Marie Byrd Land was named for Byrd’s wife, and on Nov. 29, 1929, Byrd (as navigator) and three others made a 19-hour flight over the South Pole.
During the 1933-35 mapping, land-claiming, and scientific expedition, Byrd spent five months isolated at a weather station hut (called Bolling Advance Base) and was rescued after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning.
- During the 1939-41 US government expedition (called the US Antarctic Service Expedition), Byrd discovered Thurston Island.
- During the huge 1946-47 US government expedition (called Operation Highjump), ship-based and land-based aircraft mapped 537,000 square miles (1,390,000 square km) along the Antarctic coast.
Byrd was also involved with two later Antarctic expeditions. Byrd wrote about his adventures in his books: “Skyward” (1928), “Little America” (1930), and “Alone” (1938).