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Bess Balchen Urbahn on: Bernt Balchen's Feelings About Byrd
Bess Balchen Q: Why did Bernt admire Byrd? What did he admire him for and why didn't he think he was a good leader.

BESS: Bernt Balchen admired Byrd, he had vision and he was daring doing what he did, organizing that first Byrd Expedition. You can imagine the pressure he was under, financially and otherwise. But a leader of men, I don't think that Bernt Balchen thought he was a leader of men. He would take people to the side and discuss things with them, rather than getting all of them together and saying what he had on his mind and the people on the expedition, in Little America, turned to Larry Gould, Professor Gould, as their leader. Larry Gould was a wonderful person, just a great guy and he would help people and he would not ever take sides. He would try to get people to agree with one another and help them in that way and apparently Byrd didn't do that.


Q: How did Bernt describe Byrd's behavior, when he emerged from the plane, on the flight to rescue the geological party and Gould, after their plane had been tossed around in the storm?

BESS: So you mean the first Antarctica Expedition, Larry Gould, who was the geologist and second in command of the expedition and Harold June who was one of the pilots on the Expedition and Bernt Balchen flew out on a survey flight and they had to land 140 miles from Little America. And, the storm was so ferocious that the plane was blown away. It just was not usable anymore and then Dean Smith and Commander Byrd, when the weather had cleared up, flew out to rescue them. Byrd was very much concerned for his men and their safety. Bernt described to me that when the two of them landed, Dean Smith and Admiral Byrd or then Commander Byrd, Byrd went to the side and went on his knees and prayed. And, I think he was just so happy to see his people safe and hardy.

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