Mechanised Age (1923-today)
The Mechanised Age saw the rise of the use of technology in Antarctic exploration and scientific research. Technology has conquered nature. Planes and aviation is pioneered and continues to be much used. Machines now provide the main form of surface transportation, taking over from skiing, manhauling and dog sledging.
Below, we show you some of the more significant explorers of this period.
Sir George Hubert Wilkins, Australian explorer, was a pioneer in aviation in the polar regions during the 1920s.
In November 1928, he made the first flight in Antarctica from Deception Island. A month later, Wilkins and Ben Eilson flew 1000 km (620 mi) along the Antarctic Peninsula before turning back. They conclude, wrongly that Graham Land is separated from the continent. He returned the following year and tries unsuccessfully to fly across the continent.
Richard E. Bryd
He made the first flight over the North Pole in 1926, with Floyd Bennett as co-pilot.
In his first expedition to Antarctica from 1928 to 1930, Byrd established a base, Little America, on the Bay of Whales. In 1929, Byrd and three others made the first flight over the South Pole, the third party to reach South Pole after Amundsen and Scott.
In his second expedition to the Antarctic (1933-1935), Byrd conducted meteorological researches alone in a small shack 196 km (121.7 miles) south of Little America, for five months. The expedition party surveyed 1,165,000 sq km (450,000 sq miles) of land and undertook much scientific research.
In his third expedition (1939-1940), four exploratory flights were made, making many discoveries.
His fourth Antarctic expedition (1946-1947), “Operation Highjump” mapped approximately 325,500 sq km (845,000 sq miles) of land. It was the largest Antarctic expedition ever, involving 13 ships, 23 aircraft and over 4700 men. The 13 ships included an aircraft carrier and a submarine. Byrd made his second flight over the South Pole.
In 1955 Byrd was in charge of “Operation Deep-Freeze”, another US Antarctic expedition in connection with the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958). Early in 1956 Byrd made his third flight over the South Pole.
Lincoln Ellsworth, American, was a son of a millionaire.
He was an associate and financial supporter of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, and in May 1925 they and four others attempted to fly over the North Pole. They took off in two amphibious aeroplanes but were forced to land just short of the pole.The following year, Umberto Nobile, Ellsworth and Amundsen carried out a 5,460 km (3,390 mi) flight in the airship, Norge, across the North Pole.
In November 1935 Ellsworth and Herbert Hollick-Kenyon, English, flew from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea, making the first crossing of Antarctica. They ran out of fuel half-way near Roosevelt Island and they had to complete the journey on foot.
Ellsworth returned to the Antarctic for the last time in 1938, flying some 800 km (500 mi) inland from Enderby Land.
Sir Vivian Ernest Fuchs, British, led the first land crossing of Antarctica.
In November 1957, Fuchs set out as head of the British team of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, on the first land crossing of Antarctica. It was a 3473km (2158 mi) journey from the Weddell Sea across the South Pole to the Ross Sea, taking 99 days. Another New Zealand Ross Sea party under Sir Edmund Hillary was responsible for setting up a base at McMurdo Sound and reconnoitering the route from the polar plateau back to the base, establishing depots for Fuchs. Equipped with Sno-cats and specially adapted tractors, the Fuchs party traversed much of the previously unexplored areas and gathered significant scientific information. The expedition is considered one of the outstanding accomplishments undertaken in connection with the International Geophysical Year.
Sir Edmund Percival Hillary, New Zealander, was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest (8848 m/29028 ft), together with the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norkay.
He was part of the British Mount Everest Expedition, led by John Hunt in 1953. Hillary reached the summit on May 29, 1953, and was knighted for the achievement later that year.
In 1955 he was appointed leader of the New Zealand party of the British Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which was headed by Vivian E. Fuchs. He crossed the continent using converted farm tractors, reaching the South Pole on January 4, 1958, the third to do so by overland journey and the first vehicles to reach the South Pole. The British party under Fuchs completed the crossing of Antarctica, the first to do so by overland journey and the first crossing through the South Pole. He subsequently led several expeditions to the Himalayas, and on a 1967 expedition to Antarctica made the first ascent of Mount Herschel.
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