Courtesy of our friends at History.com, I am pleased to begin each and every day of the week here at Bulldog Pundit with a snippet of some important event that occurred on this date sometime in the past. Some events might come readily to mind while others may take a bit of effort to recall. Not all are historically portentous and some may even seem whimsical. Nevertheless, each and every one is a grain in the hourglass of human history.
American explorer Richard Byrd and three companions make the first flight over the South Pole, flying from their base on the Ross Ice Shelf to the pole and back in 18 hours and 41 minutes.
At 3:29 p.m. on November 28, 1929, Byrd, the pilot Bernt Balchen, and two others took off from Little America in the Floyd Bennett, headed for the South Pole. Magnetic compasses were useless so near the pole, so the explorers were forced to rely on sun compasses and Byrd’s skill as a navigator. At 8:15 p.m., they dropped supplies for a geological party near the Queen Maud Mountains and then continued on. The most challenging phase of the journey came an hour later, when the Floyd Bennett struggled to gain enough altitude to fly safely above the Polar Plateau. They cleared the 11,000-foot pass between Mount Fridtjof Nansen and Mount Fisher by a few hundred yards and then flew on to the South Pole, reaching it at around 1 a.m. on November 29. They flew a few miles beyond the pole and then to the right and the left to compensate for any navigational errors. Byrd dropped a small American flag on the pole, and the explorers headed for home, safely landing at Little America at 10:11 a.m.