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Raimond Goerler on: Byrd's Diary
Raimond Goerler RG: Byrd's diary represents his Greenland expedition, '25, transatlantic flight and the North Pole flight, and it was both a diary and also a notebook. Byrd would record daily events and then there are also many pages where the diary simply becomes a message pad between Byrd and his pilot, and it also becomes a scratch pad in doing some navigational calculations. So it's a very casual document and it serves multiple purposes. The one thing it doesn't serve is as a public document. It was not intended for Byrd to publish, but rather he drew upon this diary for passages in some of his books.


Q: Why does Byrd's diary about the North Pole flight seem to support opposing points of view? Some people believe that it confirms that he didn't make it, others like yourself, that he believed he did make it.

RG: Like much of Byrd, the diary itself is prone to different readings about the North Pole flight. There's a progression of statements from Byrd to the pilot that you know we're "x" miles away from the Pole, now we're 20 miles away from the Pole, and then finally, he says, we're at the Pole, make a circle. These are messages from Byrd's pilot Floyd Bennett because they cannot talk on the plane, the three motors are simply too loud. On the other hand, there are also calculations in the notebook that Byrd was using to record on his chart and there are several erasures there and some readers of the erasures maintain that this was Byrd's true position and are different from his reported position. We've also had people look at the erasures and say that the erasures are erasures because they're mistakes. And so that's an issue that's still up for resolution.


Q: You do believe he made it to the Pole, why don't you think he was lying about that? You think he thought he made it.

RG: I believe that at the time of the flight that Byrd thought that he made it. The messages to the pilot are certainly very clear in the notebook. It also puzzles me that if the erasures were that critical why the erasures were not done better and why the notebook itself survived if there was something to be hidden. It just doesn't make any sense that someone who's trying to cover up a major faux pas or major lie, if you will,would not you know, be more careful.

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