Byrd, Richard Evelyn

Byrd, Richard Evelyn,

1888–1957, American aviator and polar explorer, b. Winchester, Va. He took up aviation in 1917, and after World War I he gained great fame in the air. He commanded the naval air unit with the arctic expedition of D. B. MacMillanMacMillan, Donald Baxter,
1874–1970, American arctic explorer, b. Provincetown, Mass., grad. Bowdoin College, 1898, and studied at Harvard. After a decade of teaching, he went on the expedition (1908–9) of Robert E. Peary to the North Pole.
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 in 1925. He and Floyd Bennett reported their historic flight from Spitsbergen to the North Pole and back again in 1926; however, entries from his diary suggest that they may not actually have reached the pole. In 1927 Byrd and three companions made one of the spectacular early flights across the Atlantic. A record of his flights was presented in Skyward (1928). Two years later he led a well-equipped and efficiently organized expedition to Antarctica. Establishing a base at Little AmericaLittle America,
base for Antarctic exploring expeditions, Antarctica, on the Ross Ice Shelf, S of the Bay of Whales. Richard E. Byrd, a U.S. explorer, established and named Little America in 1929 and built bases on the same site in 1933–35, 1939–41, and 1946–48
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, he discovered the Rockefeller Range and Marie Byrd Land, and late in 1929 he and Bernt BalchenBalchen, Bernt
, 1899–1973, Norwegian-American aviator. He headed one of the search expeditions for Amundsen and Ellsworth in 1925 and was a member of their 1926 expedition to the Arctic. Richard E.
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 flew to the South Pole and back. The large party gathered much scientific information.

In 1930 Byrd was promoted to rear admiral, and his book Little America was published. His second large expedition was organized in 1933, and headquarters were established once again at Little America. As winter approached, he set up an advance base 123 mi (198 km) closer to the South Pole and stayed there alone for several months making observations. Discovery (1935) and Alone (1938) were records of this fruitful expedition. In 1939–40 he was again in the antarctic, commanding a government expedition, and in 1946–47 he headed the U.S. navy expedition, the largest yet sent to the region (see AntarcticaAntarctica
, the fifth largest continent, c.5,500,000 sq mi (14,245,000 sq km), asymmetrically centered on the South Pole and almost entirely within the Antarctic Circle. Geology and Geography

Antarctica consists of two major regions: W Antarctica (c.
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). In 1955, Byrd was placed in command of all U.S. antarctic activities, and in 1955–56 he led his fifth expedition to the region. Due mainly to his efforts, the U.S. navy organized (1955–59) Operation Deep Freeze.


See E. P. Hoyt, The Last Explorer (1968).