Q: What's the biggest fear about the North Pole flight? Isn't landing a big
problem and why? Didn't Byrd encounter some major difficulty when he was on
RG: The North Pole flight had some unexpected adventures to it. Based on
their experience with the skis, there is not a desire to do emergency landings.
However, near the Pole, they detect an oil leak in one of their motors and
Byrd asks the pilot, Floyd Bennett, who'd been with Byrd on the 1925 Expedition
whether they can in fact make it back all the way back on two motors. That's
the drama. As it turned out, the oil leak was caused by a malfunctioning rivet
and as soon as the oil dropped below the loose rivet, the leak disappeared.
But, it caused of course great consternation.
Q: The main thing about flying over the North Pole, you don't want to be in
a position to have to land and take off because it's floating ice, it's not
land, is it?
RG: The North Pole is a very difficult place to land. Keep in mind, in 1925,
Lincoln Ellsworth and Amundsen had the experience of doing emergency landing in
the Arctic and they spend 30 days on the ice trying to do an emergency takeoff.
And it is an extremely risky business and it's one of the reasons why Byrd
wants a three engine airplane. He's desperate for a tri-motor, which is in
it's infancy in this period, simply because he believes it gives him more
flying range and less dependence. Witness Amundsen on one motor and in fact
all of his exploration flying is done with three motor aircraft.