On This Day In History: Admiral Richard E. Byrd Made His First Flight Over The South Pole – On Nov 29, 1929

On November 29, 1929, U.S. Admiral Richard E. Byrd led the first expedition to fly over the South Pole

In the fall of 1928, Byrd and a group of explorers traveled to the Bay of Whales and established a base camp, which they named “Little America.”

From this post, the explorers launched scientific and photographic expeditions, as well as geological surveys.

At 3:29 p.m. on November 28, 1929, Byrd along with pilot Bernt Balchen, co-pilot/radioman Harold June, and photographer Ashley McKinley, flew the Ford Trimotor to the South Pole and back in 18 hours, 41 minutes.

Their magnetic compasses wouldn’t work there, so they depended on sun compasses and Byrd’s experience as a navigator. They had difficulty gaining enough altitude, and they had to dump empty gas tanks, in order to achieve the altitude of the Polar Plateau. Along the way, they dropped supplies to a geological party.

Around 1 a.m. on November 29, Byrd’s expedition reached the South Pole. To make up for any possible navigational errors, they flew a few miles past the pole and then veered both right and left.

Byrd also dropped an American flag on the pole before they headed back to their camp “Little America”.

The flight over the South Pole was the first of five expeditions he made there during his life.

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