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Byrd's Arctic flight in the context of model atmospheres

  • G.H. Newsom (a1)

The availability of modern computer models of plausible atmospheric pressure versus altitude for a grid of points over the earth's surface permits a reexamination of Richard Byrd's dead reckoning navigation on his flight in May 1926 from Spitsbergen northwards and his return. Although details of how Byrd converted atmospheric pressure to altitude are ambiguous, the recent atmospheric models probably indicate a small systematic bias that would cause Byrd to overestimate his dead reckoning distance traveled. The same models provide a range of computed winds versus time, altitude, and location, leading to the conclusion that, if Byrd's reported winds during his flight are correct, it was the result of a very unusual and fortuitous circumstance.

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J. Portney 1973. The polar flap–Byrd's flight confirmed. Journal of the Institute of Navigation 20: 208218.

L.A. Rose 2008. Explorer: the life of Richard E. Byrd. Columbia: University of Missouri Press.

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Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
  • URL: /core/journals/polar-record
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