Q: OK What about the story of Byrd's fear of flying?
LR: Dick Byrd was afraid of flying. I've talked to people who were down with
him on his second expedition in '33-'35 and also with him briefly in the U.S.
Antarctic service expedition in '39 and '40. There's no two ways about it. He
took a bottle along, took a flask along to steady his nerves. This is a guy,
after all, as an aviation pioneer who had seen what an airplane crash could do
to people. And he was a sensitive character. The sensitivity which allowed
him, for example, to be a good leader of men and to bring large expeditions
through to success, also gave him a hyperactive imagination as to what might
happen when his planes went down. And he took incredibly daring risks, both in
the North Pole and in the South Pole, and in flights around Antarctica. Some
of these exploratory flights to the Rockefeller Mountains and so on. And
occasionally it's clear that the strain and the stress got to him. When you
consider the number of people who are still afraid of flying today in
incredibly safe airplanes, his courage in getting up in a airplane when it
really frightened him, is amazing. Again, I think it speaks very well of him
that he did these things.