Facts about Richard E. Byrd

  • Richard E. Byrd was the first man to fly over the South Pole. His five expeditions to Antarc­tica helped to unlock the mysteries of that vast, frozen continent. 
  • Richard E. Byrd also claimed to have been the first to fly over the North Pole, but recent evidence suggests that he probably fell short of reaching that goal.
  • Byrd was born on October 25, 1888, in Winchester, Virginia. In 1912 he graduated from the United States Naval Academy. A leg injury forced him to retire from active sea duty in 1916, but he was soon back in the Navy as an aviator.
  • In 1927, Byrd attempted a nonstop flight from New York to Paris, carrying the first transatlantic airmail. But bad weather forced him to crash land on the coast of France.
  • In 1928, Byrd led his first expedition to Antarctica. He established his base, Little America, on the Ross Ice Shelf. The camp of more man a dozen huts was equipped with electricity and telephones. 
  • During Byrd's second expedition, from 1933 to 1935, great emphasis was placed on scientific research. While gathering weather information, Byrd lived alone for five months. 
  • Byrd headed a third expedition, which began in 1939. In 1946-47 he was officer in charge of the largest Antarctic expedition in history—a U.S. Navy project called Operation High Jump. The purpose was to continue the work of exploring and mapping the South Polar region.
  • On his last journey, in 1955-56, Byrd helped supervise another project, Operation Deep Freeze, in preparation for the Interna­tional Geophysical Year, 1957-58. 
  • Richard E. Byrd died in Boston on March 11, 1957.