Richard E. Byrd

   The most famous American explorer of modern times, Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957), gave signs at an early age of what he would be when he grew up. At the age of 12 he took a trip by himself around the world.
   In 1925 Byrd went on a polar expedition to Greenland. What he learned there made him sure that an airplane would be able to fly over the North Pole. The following year he, with Floyd Bennett as the pilot, set out from Spitsbergen to fly to the Pole 680 miles away. Airplanes in 1926 were not nearly as reliable as they are today. But the two explorers made the trip safely. They were the first men ever to make a flight over the North Pole.
   Three years later Byrd set out from a base on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica and became the first man ever to fly over the South Pole. He claimed a great amount of Antarctica for the United States.
   On several expeditions to Antarctica, the last in 1956, Byrd mapped 450,000 square miles of this icy continent. He spent many months alone studying its harsh climate.
   Twice Byrd almost lost his life on adventures. A plane in which he was flying across the Atlantic was forced down at sea in 1927. In 1934 gas fumes from a stove almost killed him in a hut in Antarctica. Many movies and books tell of Byrd's experiences.