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BALCHEN, Bernt Papers (1877-1975)

18.8 cu ft, 5 reels

Negative microfilm

Call Nos. 168.7053, 30912-30916

IRIS Nos. 1007442-1007846, 1010042, 1008254, 1019304-1019309, 1019685-1019689, 1026910, 1031199-1031200

(1899-1973). Colonel. USAF, 1941-1956. Born 23 October 1899, Tviet, Norway. Commissioned First Lieutenant, Royal Norwegian Air Force, 1924. Member of ground crews for Arctic flights of Roald Amundsen and Richard Byrd, designing ski landing gear for the latter, 1926. Engineer for Fokker Aircraft Company and pioneer of bush pilot techniques in Arctic Canada, 1926-1927. Participated in Admiral Byrd's Antarctica Expedition, 1928-1930, as Chief Pilot of the America and as chief engineer and supply officer. Became United States citizen in 1930. Helped establish Royal Norwegian Air Force Training Center at Toronto, Canada, 19391940. Commissioned Captain, USAAF, 1941. Established and commanded Bluie West 8 rescue base in Greenland, 1941-1943; commanded bombing raids from Iceland on German Greenland bases, 1943; Chief, Allied Air Transport Command for Scandinavia, Eighth Air Force, 1943-1944; Commander, 10th Search and Rescue Squadron,1948; Special Assistant on Arctic Affairs to Secretary of Air Force and project officer for construction of Thule AFB, 1951-1952; Special Assistant, Arctic Affairs, HQ Northeast Air Command, 1955-1956. Retired October 1956. Died 23 October 1973, Mt. Kisco, NY. Author of War Below Zero (1944), The Next Fifty Years of Fliqht (1954), and Come North With Me (1958).

Personal papers and some official papers relating to Balchen's military and civilian careers, primarily for 1927-1972. Contains personal correspondence pertaining to his relationship with Admiral Byrd, his nomination for brigadier general, retirement, post-Air Force career as an aviation consultant, and his art work and exhibits (1930-1973). Includes copy of Balchen's diary (in Norwegian) on the 10th Search and Rescue Squadron (1949-1953). Includes official correspondence (1941-1956) containing materials on rescue operations in Greenland in World War II, Allied air operations and airlifts of Norwegian military personnel from Norway in 1943-1945, the operations of the 10th Search and Rescue Squadron from Elmendorf AFB, AK (1948) and various USAF cold weather exercises and projects (1948-1956). Also includes correspondence relating to Balchen's efforts in the establishment of the Scandinavian Air Services commercial airline and its pioneering of commercial Arctic routes (1948-1955). Contains copies of designs and technical drawings for equipment used in Byrd's Antarctica expedition and purchase orders and supply information for the expedition. Also includes copies of magazine articles, maps, photographs, and other materials collected by Balchen relating to cold weather survival and aviation in the Arctic, largely for 1939-1972.

Access to a few materials restricted by security classifications.

Related materials located elsewhere in the Document Collection, Air Force Historical Research Agency, include an oral history interview, no transcript available.

Related materials located at the USAF Academy Library (SMS-13), the Center for Polar Archives and Scientific Research (National Archives, Record Group 401), and the Kriendler Memorial Collection, Rutgers University Library (National Union Catalog Manuscript Collections, MS 65-1664) include other personal papers.