Bernt Balchen (Paperback)

Polar Aviator

By Carroll V. Glines, George L. Weiss (Foreword by)

Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 9781560989004, 320pp.

Publication Date: July 17, 2000

List Price: 17.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

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.


About 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).


Praise For Bernt Balchen: Polar Aviator

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)