Floyd Bennett

Floyd Bennett

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Floyd Bennett

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Floyd Bennett (October 25, 1890 – April 25, 1928) was an American aviator who piloted Richard E. Byrd on his attempt to reach the North Pole in 1926.

Biography

Bennett was born in Warrensburg, New York, in 1890. He was an automobile mechanic before he enlisted in the Navy in 1917, during World War I. Bennett was warranted as a machinist, then he attended flight school and learned to fly. Bennett served with Richard E. Byrd on an aviation survey of Greenland in 1925, where Byrd came to respect his ability as a pilot.

Byrd named Bennett as his pilot for an attempt to reach the North Pole by air in 1926. Bennett was at the controls on May 9 as the two men made their attempt, in a Fokker Tri-motor called the Josephine Ford. They returned to their airfield in Spitsbergen on the same day. Although members of the European press were skeptical of their claim (because it seemed that the plane had been away from Spitsbergen too briefly to have reached the North Pole), Byrd and Bennett were lionized as heroes in America. Bennett received the Medal of Honor for this "feat". The subsequent discovery of Byrd's diary of the flight, with erased (but still legible) sextant readings, has shown that they could not possibly have reached the North Pole (see Bernt Balchen). After returning to the United States, Bennett flew the Josephine Ford on a goodwill tour of America, with Balchen as co-pilot.

Byrd and his team had been leading candidates to win the large Orteig Prize in...
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