History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


Richard E. Byrd

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Byrd signs a photo of himself at Little America preparing to leave on his 1929 flight to the South Pole

Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr., 1888-1957.  Pioneering American aviator and polar explorer. 8" x 10" black-and-white photograph, inscribed in another hand To Jim Crook and signed by Byrd, R. E. Byrd.

This photo shows Byrd, dressed in fur, just before his landmark 1929 flight over the South Pole.  Byrd stands in the library at Little America, the Antarctic exploration base that he established on the East Ross Ice Shelf, south of the Bay of Whales.  He holds a small American flag and a stone from the grave of Floyd Bennett, his pilot on his 1926 North Pole expedition who had died the previous year.  In honor of Bennett, Byrd dropped the stone, wrapped in the small flag, when his plane, a Ford Trimotor aptly named the Floyd Bennett, was over the South Pole on this flight.

Byrd and his crew began their flight from Little America to the South Pole on November 28, 1929, late in the Antarctic Spring.  The round-trip flight took 18 hours, 41 minutes.  Because the crew had difficulty achieving a high enough altitude, it had to dump empty fuel tanks and emergency supplies, but the plan reached the South Pole and assured Byrd's place in history.

Jim Crook, to whom this photograph is dedicated, was the son of Richard C. Crook, a civil engineer who served as the Operations Officer in charge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' construction at the Trinity test site and the laboratory for the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico.  We are separately offering a letter by Byrd to Richard Crook in which he said that he was sending a signed photograph separately.  In that letter, Byrd talks of his Antarctic expedition and sends advice on how to join in a future one—confidentially expressing his intent to return to the South Pole.  Click here to see that letter.  Because this photograph is dedicated to Jim Crook in a hand other than Byrd's, we presume that Byrd signed but did not inscribe this photo and that Richard Crook then signed the photo over to Jim by putting his name on it.

Byrd has signed this photo in jet black fountain pen across a light area on his fur clothing.  The photo has a bit of rippling at the edges, and a typed sticker on the back identifies Byrd and notes the circumstances in which the photo was taken.  The piece is in fine condition.

Unframed.  Click here for information on custom framing this piece.


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