Joseph N. Portney

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: The aerial conquest of the North Pole is credited to Commander Richard E. Byrd, accompanied by Warrant Officer Floyd Bennett, who staked his claim on May 9, 1926 in a Fokker trimotor. He used a mariner’s sextant (with a bubble level), sun compass, and drift sight to achieve this historic navigational feat. In July 1981, this author participated in the first aerial polar crossing that used a ring laser inertial navigation system. In the intervening years, polar navigation relied upon celestial techniques, grid navigation (utilizing a displaced pole), and directional gyros. This paper traces the evolution of aerial polar navigation from the first attempt to the present time. The controversy surrounding the validity of Byrd’s claim of first flight over the North Pole is also resolved.
Published in: NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 39, Number 2
Pages: 255 - 264
Cite this article: Portney, Joseph N., "HISTORY OF AERIAL POLAR NAVIGATION", NAVIGATION: Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 39, No. 2, Summer 1992, pp. 255-264.
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