Richard Evely Byrd was an American explorer, aviator and naval officer. He was the first person to fly over both the North and South poles, and he did much to develop important devices and methods of navigation.
Born in Winchester, Virginia on October 25, 1888, Richard Byrd attended the Virginia Military Academy and the University of Virginia. He then studied at the US Naval Academy, graduating in the year 1912. Following graduation, he served for four years in the navy and then he entered aviation service.
In 1925 Byrd went on the first of his many expeditions. He served as flight commander with the MacMillan expedition to Greenland. For the first time planes were used in arctic exploration. The following year, on May 9, Byrd and Floyd Bennet flew to the North Pole and returned in fifteen and one-half hours. One year later, in July of 1927, Byrd, with another pilot and two navigators, attempted to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, but they were forced down at sea and rescued after a terrifying experience.
In 1928 Byrd organized a scientific expedition to Antarctica. Accompanying him were thirty-two scientists, specialists in the fields of aerology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics, radio engineering and topography. These specialists took with them the most elaborate equipment ever used in the most elaborate equipment ever used in exploration. For Byrd's enormous contribution to science, the US Congress bestowed on him the rank of rear admiral.
Between 1933 and 1935 Byrd continued a scientific survey of the Antarctic continent. In 1939 he returned to explore 900 miles of coastline around Marie Byrd Land.
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