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Raimond Goerler on: The Relationship Between Balchen and Byrd
Raimond Goerler Q: Why doesn't Byrd like Balchen and why doesn't Balchen like Byrd, yet how are they each dependent on each other.

RG: The relationship between Byrd and Balchen is one of real drama. Balchen appears on the scene in Spitsbergen, in Norway as a very resourceful and helpful individual to Byrd, helpful because of his expertise in flying in polar environments. At the same time, Balchen is somebody whom Byrd has not selected. He appears on the scene. He has expertise that Byrd doesn't have and at various times he's quite dependent upon Balchen's great expertise in matters of flying and aviation and this dependence upon somebody who really is an outsider - he's Norwegian, he's part of Amundsen's expedition I think makes Byrd feel very uncomfortable, especially since his own inclination of leadership is to demand absolute loyalty. And here he is an outsider that you know Byrd finds difficult to part with because of all the expertise that Balchen has. Balchen can fly by instrument, that's critical in the transatlantic flight in 1927 and he's so good in flying in the Arctic that he needs Balchen's expertise in the South Pole. and yet, he from you know, Byrd's sense he's still an outsider and makes Byrd quite uncomfortable. At various points Byrd says, I know of no one more competent than Balchen and I'm not only sure that it was a compliment because Byrd preferred loyalty as much as competence.


Q: Why does Byrd get so angry at Balchen at their walk?

RG: There's a there's an episode at Little America where Byrd sees Balchen working on some calculations and Byrd of course assumes that this has to do with the expedition, Balchen explains no that he has an interest in the Josephine Ford's performance fuel, speed and Byrd absolutely blows up at this because his reasoning of course isn't spelled out. He must see this as a breach of loyalty why is it that an expeditionary member wants to go back and re-examine Byrd's past accomplishments when he is on board to do this expeditionary, not the past one. So Byrd is very angry at this and I think it really raises questions of loyalty.

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