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95 Years Ago In Aviation Week

Our May 24, 1926 edition featured a blow-by-blow account of the first flight over the North Pole by Navy Lt. Commander Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett. The duo made the historic flight on May 9 in a Fokker aircraft, taking off from Spitsbergen, Norway and landing back there 15 hr. 30 min. later. “Undoubtedly, one of the greatest features of the entire flight, apart from the skill and endurance exhibited by Commander Byrd and Pilot Bennett, is the extreme reliability of the Wright Whirlwind engines, which ran without a hitch,” the magazine reported.

But the story was not one of Aviation Week’s legendary scoops: the article was based on an account of the flight from Byrd published in The New York Times. And the discovery of Byrd’s diary from the flight decades later, long after his death, has led skeptics to question whether Byrd and Bennett actually turned back more than 100 mi. short of the North Pole. However, Byrd’s historic flight over the South Pole in 1929 remains undisputed.

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