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Lisle Rose on: The Leading Visionaries in Aviation
Lisle Rose Q: Once Byrd entered the new world in aviation didn't he kind of put his finger on the pulse of the future and saw transatlantic flights and polar exploration. Wasn't he kind of a visionary about seeing the potential of aviation?

LR: Well, there were a lot of visionaries in the '20s and Byrd was certainly one of the leading visionaries. A lot of people who went into aviation at this time were kind of narrow in the sense that they were pushing aviation for the army or pushing it for the navy in very specific ways. But there were a handful of people who went into aviation basically to see how far they could push the technology, how fast. And Byrd was one of those. He saw from the beginning that aviation could be used to, extend, not just polar exploration but polar geography. There were so many more things you could see. An airplane after all, is kind of like a moving balcony, you know. And you can, you can see the world in ways and from perspectives that you've never seen it from before. And Byrd was certainly one of the leading lights. And as a matter of fact, you can, I think you can argue in some ways he was the leading light. Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic alone, among other things to make some money and to prove that it could be done. Byrd flew across the Atlantic in a much larger plane with other people to prove basically that commercial aviation would in the near future have a future and there would be a future, a commercial future in long distance flight. So he was a visionary in a much broader sense I think than, than Lindbergh was. Lindbergh later, of course, developed all of the basic routes for Pan Am and so on. But it was Byrd who first saw the commercial possibilities of aviation. Beyond that it was Byrd who of course, saw the physical and the scientific benefits of aviation. You want to be careful here too, what you're talking about. When we talk about aviation we want to be very careful that you talk about heavier than air craft. Because in the '20s there was a real struggle between whether or not the future belonged to dirigibles, lighter than air craft, which of course finally went down with the Hindenberg, that kind of future, or whether it belonged with heavier than air craft. And Byrd and Lindbergh and a handful of others really pushed the notion of a fast moving, long range airplane to be used in a variety of ways. And to that extent Byrd was a real, and a very substantial contributor to the history of aviation.

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