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Naval Aviator Richard Byrd Departs On His First Polar Expedition 1925

Waring Hills Jun 17, 2011

Dressed in furs, with his dog "Igloo", outside a hut during his first Antarctic Expedition, 12 April 1930.(Photo Navy History and Heritage Command)

Lieutenant Commander Richard Byrd departed Boston 17 June 1925 onboard the SS Peary, a former minesweeper, with three Loening amphibian aircraft on loan from the Navy. He was headed to Greenland as part of the MacMillan Expedition. Besides Navy endorsement, he was also supported by the National Geographic Society and had the backing of Edsel Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and others. This would be the first attempt to utilize naval aviation in the exploration of the Arctic regions and would particularly encounter the difficulties of navigation in the far north. Byrd’s naval aviation detachment would consist of himself along with fellow naval aviators  Floyd Bennett, A.C. Nold, and Chief Boatswain’s Mate Earl E. Reber. Support personnel were Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Charles F. Rocheville,  Lieutenant M.A. Schur and two other civilians: Albert A. Francis, who served as the aerographer, and N.P. Sorenson, a mechanic.

OL-2 Amphibian, the type aircraft borrowed from the Navy for Byrd's 1925 Arctic exploration. (Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

During this expedition the team of Byrd and Bennett would learn important lessons in polar navigation and arctic operations, which would leave them determined to pursue future flights over the North Pole.

Naval aviator and explorer Floyd Bennett, 1890-1928 (Photo Naval History and Heritage Command)

For a more detailed story on the MacMillan Expedition of 1925 read here…

Watch here a Loening catapulted into the air, unfortunately Byrd didn’t have this option…

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One thought on “Naval Aviator Richard Byrd Departs On His First Polar Expedition 1925

  1. Quinn Elliott says:

    You are mixing apples and oranges, they’re not the same. You have a photograph of NAP Floyd Bennett, underneath same picture you identify him as a Naval Aviator. The same mistake is made in the introduction, identifying Bennett as a “fellow Naval Aviator” along with Nold. You can be assured that an Enlisted Man that earned the designation Naval Aviation Pilot (NAP) was a different breed from a Naval Aviator who is/was by definition an Officer. Floyd Bennett wasn’t a Naval Aviator until he and Byrd were promoted following the expedition. Bennett was promoted to Warrant Machinists, hence he became an Officer and thereby the title of Naval Aviator was then correct.

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