Why did I love this book?
My grandfather was born in Norway and growing up I identified with that heritage. Bernt Balchen was the greatest of all of Norway’s pioneering flyers. A stunningly handsome Viking, there was little he couldn’t do; a consummate “blind-flying” pilot, navigator, engineer, polar explorer, World War Two military leader, and, amazingly, a fine watercolor artist.
His critical contributions to Admiral Richard Byrd’s famous trans-Atlantic and Pole flights made Byrd very jealous. An adroit swindler, Byrd (Balchen proved he lied about being the first man to reach the North Pole) determined to ruin Balchen’s reputation (mostly successfully) because the Norwegian could prove Byrd faked the navigation records. Author Glines’ work is masterful; he roots out all these intrigues, while simultaneously recording all the incredible accomplishments of a great flyer.