With Byrd at the Bottom of the World: The South Pole Expedition of 1928-1930

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Byrd's First Antarctic Expedition 1928

May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. More information about this seller Contact this seller 5. Trade Paperback. Condition: Very Good. In December , Ellsworth, who had been among the first to fly a dirigible over the North Pole, started to pursue his dream of being the first to fly across the entire width of Antarctica. Backed by a man team, which included Sir Hubert Wilkins as the expedition manager and Brent Balchen as the lead pilot, Ellsworth established a base on Dundee Island in Antarctica and waited for several months for the right weather for the mission, but he never got a break and had to postpone his plans until , when the weather finally cooperated.

The flight was extremely difficult due to problems with their navigational equipment and inclement weather, and as a result, they had to land several times. At one point, a storm kept them pinned down for more than three days. Finally, within four miles six kilometers of Little America, they ran out of fuel. Believing they could make it the rest of the way on foot, Ellsworth and Hollick-Kenyon set out for Little America, but without any distinct landmarks in the bleak, white, storm-tossed, environment, they wandered around for 10 days before finally reaching their destination on December 15, three and a half weeks after they had set out from Little America.

Although the journey had taken much longer than anticipated, they were still the first people to fly from one side of the continent to the other. In the s, the U. In December , the U. Navy's Operation Highjump, the largest Antarctic expedition ever organized, began. Highjump included a task force of 13 ships and more than 4, seamen.

The main purpose of the operation, which ended in , was to train men and test equipment that could operate under polar conditions; the U. During the operation, the navy successfully launched several heavy-laden transport planes from an aircraft carrier using jet-assisted take-off JATO , a significant technological advance that shortens the distance required for heavy aircraft launches. Another key outcome of Highjump was an extensive aerial survey of Antarctica.

In , the U. Navy launched another major Antarctic operation that relied heavily on aircraft and remained active up to the turn of the 21st century. One of Deep Freeze's major aviation highlights was the construction of several airplane bases that allowed planes equipped with wheels to take off and land on the ice, something that only aircraft fitted with skis could previously do.

Another mission highlight occurred when a Navy transport plane made the first aircraft landing at the South Pole on October 31, Helicopters would also eventually become an important part of Deep Freeze. In all, by the turn of the 21st century, the U.

Navy had transported more than , passengers, and delivered over million pounds of cargo and close to 10 million gallons From the early 20th century to the present day, aircraft have played an important role in Antarctica's exploration. Scientists and professional adventurers have traditionally relied on them to help them in their work, but now lay people are also using them to explore the region.

As the 21st century continues to unfold, who knows what new twists and turns Antarctic aerial exploration will take. But one matter is certain, without aircraft and the brave individuals that flew them, and continue to pilot them, the world would know very little about the coldest, harshest, and most remote continent on Earth.

Bertrand, Kenneth J. Americans in Antarctica, New York: American Geographical Society, Burke, David. Between March 7 and 13 some 1, pounds of supplies, in three depots marked with flags and snow cairns, had been successfully stowed for the winter. This would only be the start to a more aggressive campaign the following spring.

On April 19 the sun set and 42 men settled in at Little America for the winter. The little city was buzzing with activity as equipment was prepared for the summer flights and sledging. Frank Davis took daily magnetic observations, William Haines and Henry Harrison took daily meteorological observations and the radio operators kept regular schedules with the outside world. Between January 16, and February 5, , a total of balloon observations were taken.

The lowest temperature recorded at Little America was However, according to Harrison, " The sun came up on the horizon for the first time on August Geological investigation of the Queen Maud Mountains would be a primary effort as spring arrived. This would require significant depots layed across the Ross Ice Shelf. Five teams started out from Little America on Sunday, October 13, with 1, pounds of supplies. The dogs soon tired from pulling in soft, dry snow so the loaded sledges were abandoned at this point and the entire team jumped on an empty sled and returned to Little America to wait for more favorable conditions.

On October 15 a supporting party of four, led by Arthur Walden, started on a southern journey. Joining them were the geological party and Peterson, who went along to test the radio equipment. They picked up the loaded sledges that had been left a few days before and proceeded on to mile depot. Upon arrival the geological party cached their supplies and along with Peterson returned to Little America. Meanwhile, the supporting party headed south with two sledges carrying a total of pounds.

Depots were built and supplied every 50 miles. At this point the men turned for Little America and arrived back at base camp on November 8. After returning from the mile depot, the geological party on Sunday, October 20, started hauling supplies again to the depots out on the Ross Ice Shelf. By October 25 they had reached the mile depot where they cached their supplies and prepared for the return journey. The return was uneventful with the crew arriving at Little America on October Meanwhile, on October 25 Strom, Black and Feury set off in the Ford snowmobile, pulling three sledges loaded with supplies.

The men had to abandon the vehicle when it broke down 75 miles south of base camp. Walking back to Little America, the men arrived on November 5. Finally, on the same day, the geological party departed for the Queen Maud Mountains. While the sledge parties were busy with depot-laying, the aviation crew were likewise busy digging out the planes and preparing them for exploratory flights. About miles out the men spotted the geological party struggling along so they swooped low and dropped mail and additional equipment to them before heading off for the mountain range.

They landed at the foot of the Liv Glacier where, leaving the engines running, they deposited gasoline, oil and pounds of food along with a pressure cooker and trail equipment.

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They were soon back in the air heading for Little America. About miles south of Little America, on the edge of the worst crevassed area, the plane was forced to land as a leak had developed and they'd run out of fuel. The emergency radio failed to work but fortunately Balchen and Petersen flew out in the Fairchild, suspecting they had run out of fuel, and quickly located them on the ice below.

They landed and fuel was loaded aboard but, unfortunately, the engines were too cold to start. Besides, gallons of fuel was not enough to get the plane back to Little America.

The Fairchild returned to Little America, loaded additional fuel and brought it out the following day. With help from the booster on the Fairchild, the engines on the Ford tri-motor were started and together both planes arrived back at Little America about midnight. At p. With Byrd as navigator, Harold June as co-pilot and radio operator and McKinley as aerial photographer, the heavily loaded plane proceeded to climb towards the Queen Maud Mountains. For purposes of navigation, magnetic compasses were useless so close to the South Magnetic Pole.

Thus, reliance was solely on the sun compass. A bag containing messages and photographs taken during the base-laying flight were dropped by parachute.

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The geological party radioed their position from which Byrd checked his navigation. From this point the plane began to gain altitude as it neared the glacier-filled passes of the Queen Maude Mountains. By p. As the plane ascended the Liv Glacier, empty tin containers of gasoline and pounds of food were dumped out in order to reduce weight. With only a few hundred yards to spare, the plane gained enough altitude to attain the Polar Plateau. As they flew over the Polar Plateau, a new mountain range, the Grosvenor Mountains, was viewed to the west and southwest.

On the Polar Plateau the plane passed over a heavily crevassed area, the Devil's Ballroom, named by Amundsen. Observations at a. They flew a few miles beyond the Pole and then to the right and left to compensate for any possible navigational errors.


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Byrd dropped a small American flag and at a. At the foot of the glacier they flew along the front of the Queen Maud Mountains to the base of Amundsen Glacier. At this point a short fuel supply forced them to turn west for the gasoline that had been cached at the foot of the Liv Glacier on November They landed beside the gasoline, took aboard gallons and left pounds of food for the geological party.

Within an hour, they took off again and landed at Little America at a. By the time the polar flight had been completed, the geological party still had some distance to go to reach the Queen Maud Mountains. On November 30 they managed 35 miles and that night camped at the foot of the Liv Glacier. Heavily crevassed folds in the ice prevented them from reaching the edge of Mount Fridtjof Nansen via the Liv Glacier. However, a smaller glacier on the north side of the mountain was accessible and subsequently allowed them to ascend.