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PolarFlight
The Aerial Exploration of the Polar Regions
                       1897 - 1939
Epilogue 1949:
The last of the polar aviation firsts.
On May 23, 1949, a U.S. Air Force C-54 took off from Ladd Field, Fairbanks, Alaska bound for Thule, Greenland by way of the North Pole. At the controls was the legendary arctic aviation pioneer, Air Force Colonel Bernt Balchen. Twenty years earlier, Balchen had piloted Richard Byrd's Ford Tri-motor, the Floyd Bennett, to the South Pole and back, a record-setting flight for which Byrd was given credit. Several hours into the 1949 flight, the C-54 circled the North Pole then continued on to Greenland. It was hardly a momentous event in the light of Balchen's earlier achievements in arctic aviation and his World War II war-time record in the far north, but one which gave him the distinction of being the first to pilot a plane to both poles of the earth. Throughout his career, Balchen's achievements in aviation were constantly overshadowed by those attributed to Richard Byrd. It seems only fitting that the last of the great polar aviation firsts should go to Balchen.
Polar First: First person to pilot an airplane to both poles of the earth.
First-hand account: Balchen, B., Come North with Me, Balchen's autobiography written in 1958, contains a brief account of the flight.
Suggestions for Further Reading about Bernt Balchen
 
Balchen, Bernt. Come North with Me. New York: Dutton, 1958.
_____, Corey Ford, and Oliver La Farge. War Below Zero. Boston: Houghton
    Mifflin, 1944.
Bennett, Cora. Floyd Bennett. New York: Wm. Payson, 1932.
Byrd, Richard. Skyward. New York: Putnam, 1928.
Ellsworth, Lincoln. Beyond Horizons. New York: Doubleday, 1938.
Fokker, Anothony, and Bruce Gould. Flying Dutchman. New York: Holt, 1931.
Glines, C. V. Bernt Balchen: Polar Aviator. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian
    Institution Press, 1999.
Knight, C., and R. Durham. Hitch Your Wagon: the Story of Bernt Balchen.
     New York: Bell, Drexel Hill, 1950.
Montague, Richard. Oceans, Poles, and Airrmen. New York: Random House,
    1971.
Simmons, George H. Target: Arctic. New York: Chilton, 1979.
Smith, Dean. By the Seat of My Pants. Boston: Little, Brown, 1961.
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