Assault on Eternity: Richard Byrd and the Exploration of Antarctica, 1946-47.

This is a true tale of daring and romance, of tedium and tragedy, of folly and heroism, of adventure enjoyed and adventure endured one-third of a century ago by some forty-seven hundred men in thirteen ships at the bottom of the earth.

p. 53: The inexperience of these men was heartbreaking. “Since the vast majority of personnel knew nothing about the type of operation for which we were destined, we were forced to dig into books for even the most elementary information” about both polar regions. What they read about Antarctica was frightening. The cold was much more bitter and pronounced than that in the Arctic regions, and below the fliers would be an empty inhuman landscape from which no help could be expected. Traditional navigational aids were also of little help. Mercator projections were not serviceable, Kearns wrote, because of the convergence of the meridians at high latitudes and the consequent distortion of areas between parallels. So a grid system of navigation had to be adopted. But given the men’s total ignorance of the landscape…and the inevitable distortion of navigational charts, the question of cartographic accuracy could not be dismissed even before the expedition sailed.