Eugene Rodgers on: The Controversy of the North Pole Flight
Q: What do you believe happened on the North Pole flight? Do you believe it
was in his character to have lied about it?
ER: The North Pole flight of course is one of great controversy. Did Byrd
make it to the North Pole or not? Did he lie about it or not? There are
people who say Byrd was of such sterling characters that he would never lie.
Well, I think my research shows that he would lie and he did lie sometimes to
advance his image, to advance his aims. So I think he could have lied, yes.
Whether he did or not, I don't know. My impression is that Byrd did not make
it to the North Pole. Weather records tend to show that he did not. I found
an interesting letter from Paul Siple to Berndt Balchen when I was doing my
research, and this concerned the first expedition. And Siple wrote to Balchen.
Balchen was just writing his book about this time in which he originally
planned to reveal some things about Byrd that hadn't been revealed before. And
particularly that in Balchen's opinion he hadn't made it to the North Pole.
And Siple said to Balchen in his letter maybe Byrd did not make it to the North
Pole, but he certainly thought he did. And in those days, navigational
equipment wasn't good enough to tell precisely where you were. So Siple, who
was otherwise a great defender of Byrd is saying, maybe Byrd didn't make it to
the North Pole, but he thought he did.