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Media Advisory 04-36

Flight Commemorates First Flyer to Reach South Pole

Byrd's 1929 journey opened the southernmost continent to science

bust of Richard E. Byrd


A bust of Richard E. Byrd at McMurdo Station is an Antarctic Treaty Historic Site.
Credit and Larger Version


November 26, 2004

Video, still images available

To commemorate the historic flight that laid the groundwork for today's United States Antarctic Program, the National Science Foundation is making available video and still images of Richard E. Byrd's flight to the South Pole on Nov. 29, 1929, and of a commemorative flight earlier this month by a modern-day LC-130 cargo plane that retraced Byrd's route.

The material also includes scenes and interviews at the present day Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, where scientists conduct year-round research. The video may be downloaded from satellite at the coordinates below on Monday, Nov. 29 and Tuesday Nov. 30.

Today, NSF maintains three year-round scientific stations in Antarctica, including the one at the geographic South Pole, and puts several hundred researchers into the field annually between October and February.

But 75 years ago, it was Byrd who paved the way by flying an early tri-motor aircraft into unknown territory, proving aircraft were up to the changes presented by the world's highest, driest, coldest and most forbidding continent.

His success made him a national hero, and Americans followed the news of his flight with the same intensity felt by their children a generation later as they followed the first moon landing.

The video contains an animation tracing Byrd's route and uses archival footage to show milestones of Byrd's flight. It contrasts his plane with the modern ski-equipped aircraft flown today. It also explain the scientific importance of the South Pole as a world-class observatory for studying the Earth's weather patterns and climate as well as a site for telescopes that look out into the far reaches of the cosmos and back in time to help show us how the universe came into being.

Satellite coordinates:

Monday, November 29
1-1:15 PM
IA6
Transponder 15
DL 4000 V

Tuesday, November 30
1:15-1:30 PM
IA 6
Transponder 16
DL 4020 H

For b-roll on Betacam SP, contact Dena Headlee, (703) 292-7739 / dheadlee@nsf.gov

For photos taken during the commemorative flight, contact Peter West, (703) 292-7761 / pwest@nsf.gov

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-8070, pwest@nsf.gov

B-Roll Contacts
Dena Headlee, NSF, (703) 292-8070, dheadlee@nsf.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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