National Geographic : 1957 Jul
40 International Newsreel Marie Byrd and Gilbert Grosvenor Shared Byrd's Glory Though she encouraged her husband's explorations and thrilled at his daring feats, Mrs. Byrd remained always in the background. The Admiral gave his wife's name to Marie Byrd Land, a vast reach of Antarctica where an IGY station is now located (map, page 15). As President, Gilbert Grosvenor directed The Society's support of all Byrd's major expeditions. Here the trio motors to a reception given by President Hoover on June 20, 1930, to honor the first man to fly over both Poles (page 45). "Finally, we got to the point beyond which, if we had continued, we could not have re turned to the coastal waters, on account of the diminished gasoline.... I believe at the moment we turned we were near Paris...." It was pitch dark on a night of rain and wind. "We emerged from the mists and there was the lighthouse ahead of us.... We decided to land near enough to the beach line to swim ashore, if necessary, and to salvage the plane, if it were not too badly wrecked.... "We now dropped a number of flares as nearly in a line as we could, about 100 yards from the beach line. They all ignited.... Crash-landing on the Dark Sea "I gave the orders to land.... The wheels touched, and ... the landing gear ... was sheared off, along with the wheels, with hardly a jar of the plane, as though a great knife had cut it.... "I suppose I was dazed a little. I know I got a pretty stiff blow over the heart. I had been looking out of the cabin window and found myself in the water outside.... "The plane had instantly filled with water.. Noville was getting out of the window.... I found Balchen slightly caught under water and trying to extricate himself.... A moment later Acosta appeared, apparently from no where, swimming toward the wing...." It was still dark when they reached the village of Ver-sur Mer, a mile away. "Even after we reached it," Byrd wrote, "we spent much time going from house to house trying to arouse someone.... A boy on a bicycle passed us, but he must have thought we were tramps, for he hurried on. Wet and bedraggled, we certainly were not prepossess ing." Finally they convinced the lighthouse keeper they really had flown from America. Once convinced, the whole village turned out to welcome them and then the whole world showered them with honors. Unknown Antarctic Beckons But transatlantic flight was only an interlude, and in 1928 30 Dick Byrd was back on his main crusade. This time he set his sights on mysterious Antarctica. To this first Byrd Antarctic Expedition and to the second ex pedition of 1933-35 the National Geographic Society made substantial grants. In the antarctic spring of 1929, after win tering over at the first Little America, Byrd took off on a flight to the Queen Maud Range to establish a supporting base for the planned air voyage to the South Pole. Mission accomplished, the plane headed back. "Approximately 100 miles from Little America we reached an area which the dog teams had reported dangerous, if not impos sible, for an airplane landing," Byrd wrote in "The Conquest of Antarctica by Air" in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for August, 1930. "Over this place the motors began to miss. [Harold] June said we were low on gas. Suddenly all three engines stopped. Dean Smith had the wheel.... "We bumped hard, rocked along crazily, and came to rest without smashing, greatly to our surprise. It hardly seemed possible that we had gotten down safely in this area. We were on the edge of the worst part. We were lucky." Thirty-six hours later a rescue plane reached them with mc-e gas, and they were able to return to Little America.