Bernt Balchen: Polar Aviator

Overview

He set polar flight records, organized a series of daring wartime air operations, and became a leader in Arctic aviation. But despite these achievements, Norwegian-American aviator Bernt Balchen saw his public image and military career repeatedly undermined by his one-time mentor, the famous and influential Admiral Richard Byrd.

In this new biography, Carroll Glines describes how Byrd's respect for Balchen's talents gradually eroded even as Balchen steadily gained a wider ...

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Overview

He set polar flight records, organized a series of daring wartime air operations, and became a leader in Arctic aviation. But despite these achievements, Norwegian-American aviator Bernt Balchen saw his public image and military career repeatedly undermined by his one-time mentor, the famous and influential Admiral Richard Byrd.

In this new biography, Carroll Glines describes how Byrd's respect for Balchen's talents gradually eroded even as Balchen steadily gained a wider reputation for courage and technical skill. Glines contends that Byrd derailed Balchen's postwar promotion to brigadier general, forcing his retirement from the military in 1956. He also documents how Balchen's publisher bowed to pressure from Byrd's supporters to remove material from a 1958 autobiography. Balchen had argued that Byrd's claims to have been the first to fly across the North Pole in 1926 could not be supported by speed and distance calculations.

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Editorial Reviews

Aviation History
Glines has had the guts and integrity to tell the Balchen story as it should be told, letting the chips fall where they may. For the first time anywhere, Glines lays out the facts about the controversy that has surrounded Admiral [Richard] Byrd's flight over the North Pole, as well as Byrd's long series of attacks on Balchen. Byrd bitterly resented — and feared — Balchen's knowledge that the flight had not been over the North Pole, as Byrd had claimed, and he did everything in his power to hamper Balchen's career. . . . In his portrayal of Balchen's fascinating wartime career, Glines really sines, following the Norwegian aviator's myriad activities with the skill and understanding of a fellow pilot. . . . He has done a masterful job relating [Balchen's] adventuresome life.
From the Publisher
Glines has had the guts and integrity to tell the Balchen story as it should be told, letting the chips fall where they may. For the first time anywhere, Glines lays out the facts about the controversy that has surrounded Admiral [Richard] Byrd's flight over the North Pole, as well as Byrd's long series of attacks on Balchen. Byrd bitterly resented -- and feared -- Balchen's knowledge that the flight had not been over the North Pole, as Byrd had claimed, and he did everything in his power to hamper Balchen's career. . . . In his portrayal of Balchen's fascinating wartime career, Glines really sines, following the Norwegian aviator's myriad activities with the skill and understanding of a fellow pilot. . . . He has done a masterful job relating [Balchen's] adventuresome life. (Aviation History)

Carroll Glines has written a remarkable biography of a remarkable man. . . . Bernt Balchen was the first man to pilot an aircraft over both poles, the man who taught Amelia Earhart to fly on instruments so that she could solo across the Atlantic, the man who flew Admiral Byrd across the Atlantic and navigated him around Antarctica when it turned out that Byrd himself was, in truth, neither a flyer nor a navigator. (Roanoke (Virginia) Times)

Glines has had the guts and integrity to tell the Balchen story as it should be told, letting the chips fall where they may. For the first time anywhere, Glines lays out the facts about the controversy that has surrounded Admiral [Richard] Byrd's flight over the North Pole, as well as Byrd's long series of attacks on Balchen. Byrd bitterly resented -- and feared -- Balchen's knowledge that the flight had not been over the North Pole, as Byrd had claimed, and he did everything in his power to hamper Balchen's career. . . . In his portrayal of Balchen's fascinating wartime career, Glines really sines, following the Norwegian aviator's myriad activities with the skill and understanding of a fellow pilot. . . . He has done a masterful job relating [Balchen's]adventuresome life. (Aviation History)

Booknews
This biography of Bernt Balchen tells the story of an aviation ground-breaker, the first person to fly over both of the poles, whose reputation and military career were undermined by one of his peers. Glines, a retired Air Force colonel and curator of the Doolittle Military Aviation Library at the University of Texas, Dallas, argues that Richard Byrd, a onetime mentor of Balchen, almost single-handedly destroyed Balchen's chance for a promotion to brigadier general and forced his retirement from the Air Force in 1956 at the peak of his technical expertise. This book reestablishes some of the facts that Byrd forced Balchen's publisher to remove from his 1958 biography, and relates in detail the Arctic flights and World War II operations that Balchen flew. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560989004
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 7/17/2000
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Carroll V. Glines is a retired Air Force colonel and curator of the Doolittle Military Aviation Library at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the author of thirty-one books, including Roscoe Turner: Aviation's Master Showman (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995).
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 Acknowledgements Chapter 3 Introduction Chapter 4 1. Spitsbergen Chapter 5 2. The Lad from Tveit Chapter 6 3. Introduction to a New World Chapter 7 4. The Flight of the America Chapter 8 5. Tragedy and Prelude to Triumph Chapter 9 6. To the South Pole Chapter 10 7. Fame and Misfortune Chapter 11 8. Prelude to War Chapter 12 9. The Challenge of Bluie West 8 Chapter 13 10. "War Below Zero" Chapter 14 11. Operations Sonnie and Ball Chapter 15 12. Operation Where and When and the Sepals Project Chapter 16 13. From Airline Copresident to Squadron Commander Chapter 17 14. "The Most Unpleasant Years of My Life" Chapter 18 15. An Autobiography Raises a Storm Chapter 19 16. The World's Polar Consultant Chapter 20 Appendix

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