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Errors reported in 1946 by aircraft pilots using pulsed radar altimeters over Antarctic ice, coupled wih results of radio-wave propagation studies in both polar areas (1946-1955), led to measurements of the electrical characteristics of thick ice at high and ultra-high frequencies. These measurements produced information relative to dielectric constants, loss factors, scattering, and interface reflection data that subsequently permitted successful radio-wave penetration measurements in continental ice to depth of several hundred feet in both the Antarctic and the Arctic (1958-1960). Results indicated clearly that low-flying pilots relying on pulsed 440-Mc altimeters in poor visibility over thick ice can be fatally misled by errors inherent in these instruments. The paper presents recent data obtained by the Signal Corps pertinent to radio-wave transparency of thick ice and snow.