Why Famous: A pioneering American aviator and polar explorer, Richard E. Byrd claimed that his expeditions had been the first to reach both the North Pole and the South Pole by air.
The 1996 discovery of Byrd's diary suggests they may have turned back 150 miles short of the pole due to an oil leak, bringing the achievement into dispute.
In 1929, Byrd established an American base in Antarctica and accompanied by aviator Bernt Balchen, he made the undisputed first aircraft flight over the South Pole later in the same year.
Byrd is a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest honor for valor given by the United States.
- 1926-05-09 1st flight over the North Pole claimed by Richard E. Byrd and co-pilot Floyd Bennett. Later discovery of Byrd's diary suggests they may have turned back 150 miles short of the pole due to an oil leak.
- 1929-11-04 Richard E. Byrd, Laurence McKinley Gould and their polar expedition team begin a 2½ month, 1500-mile dog-sledge journey into the Queen Maud Mountains. The first exploration of the interior of Antarctica.
- 1929-11-28 Richard E. Byrd makes his 1st South Pole flight
- 1929-11-29 Richard E. Byrd sends "My calculations indicate that we have reached vicinity of South Pole" (He was wrong)
- 1930-07-19 Richard E. Byrd, Laurence McKinley Gould, and their polar expedition team return to the United States following the first exploration of the interior of Antarctica