To the Pole: The Diary and Notebook of Richard E. Byrd, 1925-1927

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Ohio State University Press, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 161 pages
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On May 9, 1926, Richard E. Byrd announced to the world that he and copilot Floyd Bennett were the first to fly an airplane over the North Pole. Documents published here for the first time provide new insights into this most controversial accomplishment of Byrd's career.

Some journalists at the time questioned whether Byrd's airplane, the Josephine Ford could have reached the North Pole and returned in less than sixteen hours. More questions arose after Byrd's death in 1957. A Swedish meteorologist concluded that the Josephine Ford would have needed a beneficial wind to accomplish the feat, and his study of weather data indicated that there had been no such wind. In 1973 another author reported that Byrd's pilot had later confessed to Bernt Balchen, a Norwegian pilot who had assisted Byrd, that they had only circled on the horizon out of sight of reporters and landed when enough time had passed to claim the North Pole.

To the Pole presents transcriptions of Byrd's handwritten diary and notebook, which were discovered by Ohio State University archivist Raimund Goerler in 1996 when he was cataloging Byrd's papers for the university. In his diary Byrd recorded his preparations for the North Pole flight, and he used it as a message pad to communicate with his pilot when the deafening noise from the plane's engines rendered verbal communication impossible.

Byrd also wrote his navigational calculations on the leaves of his diary, and photographs of these crucial pages are presented in the book as well, along with a copy of Byrd's official report on the expedition to the National Geographic Society.

Also included in the book are portions of the diary dealing with Byrd's earlierexpedition to Greenland and his flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Goerler has written an introduction and epilogue providing historical context for Byrd's achievements and biographical information on the rest of his extraordinary career. The volume is illustrated with maps and a number of photographs from the Byrd archive.


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TO THE POLE: The Diary and Notebook of Richard E. Byrd, 1925-1927

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This contribution to polar history—a contextualized and annotated reproduction of Richard Byrd's scant diary during the most important years of his life—from Ohio State University archivist Goerler ... Read full review


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About the author (1998)

Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd was a U.S. naval officer and aviator-the only person of his time who had flown over both the North Pole and the South Pole and one of the first men to fly the Atlantic. During World War I, he was lieutenant commander of the U.S. air forces in Canada. Skyward (1928) tells of the first airplane flight made over the North Pole with Floyd Bennett in 1926. Little America (1930) is a detailed record of Byrd's flight over the South Pole. Alone (1938) is his remarkable tale of fortitude during his self-imposed isolation at Advance Base in the Antarctic in 1934. In the spring of 1947, Byrd returned from his fifth and largest polar expedition, the largest exploring expedition ever organized-13 ships staffed by 4,000 men, entirely naval in personnel. Byrd received a special medal of the National Geographic Society from President Herbert Hoover in 1930, the Legion of Merit for outstanding services from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, and the Defense Department's Medal of Freedom in 1957. President Dwight Eisenhower placed Byrd in charge of all Antarctic activities of the United States. Admiral Byrd was in over-all command of the Naval task force that, between 1955 and 1959, was to prepare, supply and maintain a series of scientific stations in Antarctica. Byrd died in 1957. He was buried with full military honors in the Arlington National Cemetery.

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