Flight Over the Pole

In 1929, American Richard E Byrd reported flying over the Pole with Bernt Balchen (chief pilot), Harold June (second pilot and radio operator) and Ashley McKinley (photo surveyor). They flew up the Liv Glacier to the Polar Plateau, but due to the cold, thin air the plane was unable to climb, forcing the men to ditch 110kg of emergency rations. Balchen, an experienced Arctic pilot, gained a little more altitude by throwing the aircraft into a hard turn toward the towering rock face on his right and catching an updraft. It was a further suspense-filled four hours to the Pole; they arrived at 1:14am on November 29, 1929. Byrd dropped a rock wrapped in the American flag out of the window of his Ford Trimotor plane, Floyd Bennett, and flew back to his camp at Little America. Although the navigation of Byrd’s flight has been questioned, it is certain that Byrd was among the six men in two aircraft who flew over S 90° on February 15, 1947.

On neither of his flights did Byrd land, however, meaning that, after the expeditions of Amundsen and Scott, the Pole lay untouched for another 44 years.