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Lisle Rose on: Byrd's First Antarctic Expedition
Lisle Rose Q: How big was Byrd's first Antarctic expedition?

LR: Well, it was very large. Byrd's private Antarctic expeditions, first of all, were the largest mounted to that time. They required an enormous amount of logistical planning. He had to balance out the, his own needs and desires to explore Antarctica by aviation and above all to make the spectacular flight down to the South Pole with his publicly professed commitment to science to bring good scientists down there and so on. He had to balance off his inclination to test new technologies. In this particular case the internal combustion engine, not only on airplanes, but on tractors and so on, with the need to maintain tried and true means of transportation, that is to say dog teams and so on. So it was a tremendous undertaking and for a man who had never been there before, I mean most people who went down to Antarctica, many of them had been juniors on earlier expeditions and so on. They had some idea of, some acquaintance, some relationship with the place. They had gotten their feet wet as it were, before they went down there. Here Byrd says, well, I'm going to go down to Antarctica which is 10,000 miles away and I've never seen the place before, and by the way I'm taking tractors and scientists and airplanes and so on. It was a breathtaking means of exploration.


Q: What was unique about this expedition? What was he trying to do for the first time?

LR: Well, no other people had wintered over before. Scott had wintered over and a lot of other people had wintered over. What was unique about this expedition was that he was going to be using advanced technologies, industrial technologies, the tractor, but particularly the airplane to see more of Antarctica than had ever been seen before. The glory of the airplane is that it's a moving balcony. So your perspective is immeasurably broadened and deepened by what you can see from the air. You can just do an enormous amount more. And this was again, much of the promise of the first Byrd expedition was that you were going to bring back and, and really begin to fill in the outlines of what was down there.

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