Aviation in Mississippi: Flying to the South Pole

We will be exploring Mississippi’s rich aviation history in this series. From early flight photographs to the moon landing and beyond, MDAH collections document this exciting part of our past. Special thanks to Nan Prince for writing this post.

Captain Parker's flag. Accession Number: 1962.355 (Museum Division Collection)
Captain Parker's flag. Accession Number: 1962.355 (Museum Division Collection)

This Mississippi state flag was carried by Mississippi native Captain Alton Parker while serving as a pilot on the Richard Byrd Antarctic Expedition of 1928-1929.  Parker served with distinction on Byrd’s earlier expedition to the North Pole and was chosen to accompany him to Antarctica.  On December 5, 1929, Parker piloted the flight that discovered the Ford Mountain Range. The expedition was the first to fly over the South Pole.

A native of Crystal Springs, Parker was honored by Mississippi on September 6, 1930, at a ceremony at the State Capitol after he returned home from the expedition.  The pilot gave this flag to his native state. The Jackson Daily News described the gift, saying, “The small flag was long in the frigid country, it whirred with its daring owner in airplanes over long stretches of the Antarctic wastes and eventually, with its owner, back in Mississippi.“1 Parker became a commercial pilot and logged more than two million miles in the air before his death in 1942.

Artifacts from the Museum Division collection that are not on exhibit are available for viewing by appointment only. Please contact Nan Prince, Asst. Director of Collections, by email to schedule an appointment.

1 “State’s Flag with Parker at South Pole,” Jackson Daily News, September 5, 1930, page 23. MDAH microfilm #21015.