On October 25, 1890, American aviator Floyd Bennett was born. BennettBennett claimed, along with Richard E. Byrd, to have made the first flight to the North Pole in 1926. However, their claim to have reached the pole is disputed.
Floyd Bennett enlisted in the Navy during World War I and attended flight school. There he was rated Aviation Pilot. He was appointed pilot for Richard E. Byrd’s attempt to reach the North Pole by air in 1926. The two men took off in May in a Fokker Tri-motor called the Josephine Ford. During that day they returned to their airfield in Spitzbergen. The plane lost oil and while Bennett advised turning back, Richard Byrd decided to continue the flight. The crew claimed to have reached the Noth Pole, but the press remained skeptical since it seemed that they had been away from Spitzbergen too briefly to have reached the North Pole.
Back in the United States, bennett and Byrd received the Medal of Honor. However, the discovery of Byrd’s diary of the flight, with erased sextant readings, has been considered as evidence they might not have reached the North Pole after all. Further, Bernt Balchen claimed that on the way back from Spitzbergen, Bennett confessed not to have reached the North Pole and instead the crew flew in circles.
In 1927, Richard Byrd and his aviation team were candidates to win the famous Orteig Prize for the first nonstop flight between France and the United States. However, Floyd Bennett was at the time seriously injured due to an accident during practice and the plane was severely damaged as well. As a result, Charles Lindbergh won the Orteig Prize. He successfully flew from Long Island, New York, nonstop to Paris, France.
References and Further Reading:
- Floyd Bennett at Britannica Online
- The Trans-Atlantic Flight of the ‘America’
- Charles Lindberg and his Spirit of St. Louis at SciHi