Though the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition took place more than twenty years after the likes of Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, little had changed when it came to the available methods of transportation. Explorer Richard E. Byrd had large tractors to move supplies, but still relied heavily on dog sleds, skis, and schooners ships, which were used in the polar regions by generations of explorers. What Byrd had over Shackleton was the power of flight; Byrd was among the first to fly aircraft in the polar regions. This changed both the speed and safety of polar exploration and created a contrast of new and old.
These collections (National Archives Identifiers:45648677 and 45648792) were donated to the Archives by E.J. Demas, who served as an airplane mechanic with Byrd from 1926-1935, as support for his 1926 North Pole flight, 1927 Trans-Atlantic flight, and the two Byrd Antarctic Expeditions from 1928-1930 and 1933-1935. Demas kept a record of the travels and hardships of the crews while on the Byrd expeditions. This material was recently transferred to the Still Picture Branch from the Textual Records Division.
E.J. Demas in front of the Floyd Bennett. Local indentifier: XEJD-DE-01-15-16
Featured below are images of the planes used, interesting photographs, and some adorable companions to the explorers.
Unloading a plane on the first Byrd Antarctic Exploration. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-01-15-10
Original Caption: Stars and Stripes at Little America (1928). Floyd Bennett in the background. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-02-02-05
Original Caption: Pulling Floyd Bennet Ford-Trimotor had been in snow since 1930 (1934). Local identifier: XEJD-DE-01-15-14
Digging out the Floyd Bennett Ford-Trimotor, which had been buried in the snow since 1930. (1934) Local identifier: XEJD-DE-01-15-11
Demas working on one of the planes on the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-01-20-15
Ford Tri-motor on the Byrd Antarctic Expedition II. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-01-20-02
Original Caption: Second Expedition- Bay of Whales- Little America, The Jacob Rupert, Ford tri- Bennet, Fairchild- Stars and Stripes, Tractor- instrumental in rescue of Byrd (March 25-August 10) 1934. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-02-06-01
Sled dog. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-06-05-21
Original Caption: “Igloo” Admiral Byrd’s dog, which has been to both ends of the Earth. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-02-02-11
Original Caption: “True Southerners” These Eskimo puppies were born in the South Polar region. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-02-02-10
E.J. Demas with Adm. Byrd’s dog, Igloo. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-02-02-04
Original Caption: Eskimo Huskies greet Admiral Byrd on his return to Little America after his long isolation. Local identifier: XEJD-DE-01-18-01
Planes have somewhat eased the burden for those who choose to explore the coldest regions of the Earth. However, for those who choose to admire from afar, planes give scale while taking none of the beauty away from these places.