The Descriptive Finding Guide for the Bernt Balchen Personal Papers SDASM.SC.10012

Finding aid prepared by Natasha Stanbury Harris
San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego, CA, 92101
(619) 234-8291
May 2006

Title: Colonel Bernt Balchen, 1899-1973 Personal Papers
Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.10012
Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 0.4 Cubic feet 1 manuscript box
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1903-1973
Date (inclusive): 1903-2002
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Bernt Balchen, a renowned cold-weather aviator.
Location note: San Diego Air & Space Museum
creator: Balchen, Bernt, 1899-1973

Preferred Citation note

[Item name] Personal Collection of Bernt Balchen, 1899-1973, Archives, San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Biographical/Historical note

World renowned aviator Bernt Balchen was born in Tveit, Norway on October 23, 1899. Colonel Balchen, a native Norwegian, started flying in 1921. He became a U.S. citizen in 1930. His career spanned 35 years, serving both governments in cold-weather aviation. His many accomplishments include: pilot of the “America” transoceanic flight, searching for Amundsen, Byrd Antarctica expedition, building a secret air base in Greenland, rescues of downed planes, flying arms to Norwegian Resistance movement, rebuilding SAS Airlines, the DEW Line, and many other notable achievements. He retired from the USAF in 1956. He received many honors for his contributions to aviation. Colonel Balchen passed away in 1973 and was buried on his 74th birthday.

Scope and Contents note

This collection covers Bernt Balchen’s admirable career as a cold weather aviator who made many valuable contributions to the aviation world. This collection contains family photos of Colonel Balchen as a child in the early 1900’s and ranges to articles and letters received by his wife and family in the early 2000’s. The materials cover a wide time span and consist of a variety of materials relating to the life and achievements of this great aviator.
Selected digitized images from this collection on Flickr.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Most of the collection was donated to the Museum in the early 2000’s.

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open to researchers by appointment.

Conditions Governing Use note

Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.

Related Archival Materials note

Secondary Sources:

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Cold-weather aviation
Scandanavian Airlines System


Box 01


Articles & News Releases (Including Photocopies & Byrd the North Pole debate).

Physical Description: 1. Photocopy of article “Agderposten: Balchen-monument June 15 1987. 2. Photo copy: reprint from Air Force Magazine July 1980 “Col Bernt Balchen” by Peter J. Anderson. 3. “Beleaguered by the Icecap” chapt IX from Colonel William S. Carloon USA F 1962. 4. Original release NEWS-the National Committee to observe the 50th Anniversary of Powered Flight. Sunday October 11, 1953. “President Eisenhower to Greet International Air Pioneers.” 5. “Geographic Place Names Honoring Bernt Balchen” Antarctica, Norway, Alaska (USA). 6. US-Swedish Military Cooperation in the Second World War by Carl Gustav Finstrom April 28, 2001. 7. “Scandinavian Carpetbagger” by Captain Eric Friedman Air Force Overseas Staff August 1945. 8. Excerpts from Published Sources of Information on the Development of the Thule Air Force Base, Greenland December 30, 2000. 9. AFTONBLADET (Swedish newspaper June 4, 1945). “U.S. Planes had a Secret Air Base in Lulea. 10. Photocopied excerpts from Smith’s “Idol with Feet of Clay.” A book in regards to Byrd’s North Pole claims. (There are some pages missing). 11. “The Story of Bernt Balchen” from Airport Services Management 1976. 12. “Sooner” by Ltd. Paul Blaida-recount of Greenland May 28, 1942-July 19-1942. 13. Photo copy: article Col Bernt Balchen “Airpower Pioneers- Air Force Magazine July 1980. 14. Photo copy: Article from Famous Flyers “Viking in the Cockpit” FAN Aviation News Sept 1972. 15. Photocopy of article: “USA-plan stortade i Sverige by Karin Bojs. July 1987. 16. Wings of Waves, Part 5: Byrd, Balchen, Acosta & Noville 4 page article. 17. “Byrd’s Eye View: Did the admiral fly over the North Pole? His own diary offers clues.” New York Times Book Review June 7, 1998 by Malcolm W. Browne. 18. Reviews: “To the Pole: The Diary and Notebook of Richard E. Byrd, 1925-1927.” By Raimond D. Goerter, 1998. Columbus: Ohio State University Press April 2000. 19. News Release “National Archives to Show Polar Exploration Films” October 21, 1971. 20. Out of the Past issue title “In Search of America” by H.V. Pat Reilly summer 198


Physical Description: 21. Award: Order of Polaris Nov 15 1974. 22. Award: Order of Icarus 1973. 23. Award: Canadis Aviation Hall of Fame Dec 31 1973. 24. Award: Order of Flight 1973. 25. Photocopy of United States Army Air Corps “Citation for Legion of Merit.” June 23, 1945.

Booklets & Brochures

Physical Description: 26. Booklet: “Polar XXV the Yeast in the Leaf 1954-1999 (comments on opening of the polar route). 27. Brochure: Kill Devil Hill. 28. “Flygoperation Balchen” Amerikanska flygningar I Sverige 1944-1945 (English translation). 29. “Harry Soderman” Skandinaviskt Mellanspel by Norska och Dansk and Trupper I Sverige, Sweden 1945. 30. “Kurirflyg” En livina under andra var dskriget, by Lars-Axel Nilsson and Leif A. Sandberg. 31. Operation “Bolero (Air Phase). Greenland: 28, May 1942-19 July 1942.

Colonel Balchen's Notes

Physical Description: 32. “Engineering Aerodynamics” by Walter S. Diehl. Photocopy of book’s cover, an item Balchen carried with him across the South Pole November 29, 1929. 33. Photocopies of original notes by Bernt Balchen in connection with the South Pole Flight. 34. Photocopy of notes by Bernt Balchen regarding Byrd’s claims to the North Pole Flight. 35. “Facts on the PN9# Rescue in Greenland November 9, 1942-April 1943. This includes 3 pages (photocopies): 1) Fact sheet June 24 1959; 2) Map of Greenland ice cap; 3) Extract Award of Distinguished-Flying Cross. June 17, 1943. 36. Original Notes by Bernt Balchen in connection with the 1929 flight over the South Pole. 37. Photo copy: Facts on the PN9E Rescue 6/24/59. 38. Photo copy: Engineering Aerodynamics by Walter S. Diehl carried by Balchen Nov 29 1929.

Donation Information & Letters to and from Mrs. Balchen

Physical Description: 39. 4 letters correspondence between Mrs. Balchen and San Diego Aerospace Museum. 40. Letter from Mrs. Balchen describing donations July 1995. 41. Letter from Mrs. Balchen to Ed McKellar with enclosure material on openings of Ver sur Mer (CHECK) museum in France, honoring Bernt Balchen. 42. Letter to Mrs. Bernt Balchen and family from Gordon K. Jarstad October 20, 1973. 43. Letter from Audrey S. Balchen in reference to exhibit “My Gal Sal” at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio March 30, 2001. 2 copies. 44. Memo: Carpetbagger operations out of Lulea, Sweden WWII. From Audrey S. Balchen January 1997. 45. Letter to Mrs. Balchen re: death of Balchen from Postmaster General James A. Farley Oct 19 1973.

Honorary Degree

Physical Description: 46. Honorary degree: Doctor of Science University of Alaska 1954.

Invitations and Dinner Programs

Physical Description: 47. Invitation to luncheon honoring Prince of Denmark. 48. Invitation to honor Charles Lindbergh National Geo Society: Hubbard Gold Medal Nov 14 1927. 49. Invitation to join the Council of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences Jan 1933. 50. Invitation to dinner honoring Raymond Orteig. 51. Program from dinner honoring International Air Pioneers, Hotel Mayflower Oct 14 1953. 52. Invitation to luncheon honoring Lt. Cdr Richard E. Byrd, Floyd Bennet & members of the Byrd Expedition July 9 1926. 53. Invitation from City of Paris, France to be a guest celebrating Independence Day July 4, 1927-French language. 54. Invitation from American Chamber of Commerce in Paris (same event as above #21). 55. Message from Irwin J. Levy of Menlo Park, CA read at the Sons of Norway dinner in Washington D.C., October 23, (no year). 56. Photo copy: Invitation exhibit of art by Col. Balchen Jan 6 1953.


Physical Description: 57. Photo copy: Letter to Balchen from Gen. H.H. Arnold Sept. 12 1941. 58. “A Case for Historians” by Fred Hotson August 1975. Canadian Aviation Historical Society Toronto, Canada. This is regarding Balchen's view of Byrd flight. 59. The Norseman deterioration in storage. This includes 4 parts: 1) Letter to Robert H. Noordyn from Andrew Stavros; 2) Letter to Andrew Stavros to Audrey S. Balchen regarding fire that destroyed Norseman; 3) History of the Norseman Aircraft; 4) Letter from Bernt Balchen to Robert Noordyn regarding Norseman deliver 12/2/1941 (Photocopy). 60. Report/letter from Andrew Stavros 1941-1942 + one photocopy of Stavros with the Norseman. 61. Letter to Colonel Bernt Balchen from President Dwight Eisenhower June 24, 1957, in regards to a testimonial dinner. Original + 2 copies. 62. The America (Trans Atlantic Flight) Includes 4 parts:1) Letter from H.A. Bruno & Associates Incorporated August 22, 1968; 2) Letter the Noordyn Norseman File to Audrey S. Balchen from Robert H. Noordyn; 3) Letter to Bill Bombel from Bernt Balchen June 10, 1954; 4) Notes from Bernt Balchen to Robert Durham. 63. Letter from Edydal Fridthor to M. Donnell, subject: Bernt Balchen’s missions. Article title “Bombing of German weather stations out of Balchen base in Iceland 1943.” 64. Letters of Commendation July 2, 1945 (Major General William J. Donovan) -July 19, 1945 (Brigadier General Earl S. Hoag). 65. Photocopy of letter from Major General Hj. Riisor-Larsen to Mr. Louis Ruppel, the Editor at Collier’s, January 30th 1942. 66. Photo copy: letter to Sons of Norway, Bernt Balchen Lodge #46-2 to Bernt Balchen Lodge #8-003 May 22 1987. 67. Photo copy: Letter to Balchen from Gen Nathan Turning Oct 31 1956. 68. Report by Andrew Stavros “Reflections of my Artic Experience.” 6 pages, including introduction note from Audrey S. Balchen 02/10/2002 and declassified document from Personnel Bluie East 2.

Miscellaneous Photo Captions

Physical Description: Captions Flygoperation Balchen (Lulea, Sweden) pages 1-4.


Physical Description: Original newspaper “The Evening Star” June 30 1927 Byrd flight from U.S. to Le Bourget, Paris.


Physical Description: 69. Obituary of Balchen: 2 pages. 70. “Description of the Design of Bernt Balchen’s Grave Marker, Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, written by Mrs. Balchen.


Physical Description: 71. Kjeller, Norway, Handley-Page Aircraft Balchen 2nd from right. 72. Sparta Athletic Club 1919 Norway Balchen on the right seated. 73. Balchen’s civilianized B24 at Torslanda Air Field surrounded by Swedish observers 31 March 1944-Balchen’s first arrival in Sweden. 74. Balchen’s “Civilianized” B24 Aircraft with false civil registration numbers, “G-AYO, at the Airport at Gothenberg, Sweden, 31 March 1944. 75. Left to Right: Balchen arrives in Sweden for Operation Sonnie TSGT Cecil F. Grive ENGR, MAJ Keith Allen Pilot, 1st LT Bob Durham NAV, Balchen Command Pilot, TSGT Albert Sage, Radio OP, CAPT David Schreiner Co-Pilot, 2DLT Robert Withrow Asst NAV Note “V” near top of fuselage Gothenburg Torslanda Airfield March 31 1944. 76. Balchen, on left, with CDR of the Swedish Air force, General Bengt Nordenskiold to his left, then Colonel Felix Hardison, US Military Attache, and Claes Forman, standing L to R: Hans Osterhus and US Press Attache Jenson 1044. 77. Balchen, Capt. Meyers and Brig General Earl Hoag, at Bellmans KRO, (Restaurant) Stockholm, Mar 45. 78. Capt Holliman and Col Balchen Kallaz, Sweden July 1945. 79. Norwegian Resistance receives air dropped supplies from Balchen’s aircraft fall 1944. 80. Norwegian Resistance receives supplies from Balchen’s aircraft fall 1944. 81. Balchen with LT Linde, at award ceremony for Distinguished Flying Cross, spring 1945. 82. Balchen visiting key officials working with the Danish Resistance, Hotel Lund, Southern Sweden, L to R: Balchen, Miss Collins, Capt. Ahrenberg, Swedish Navy; Col Curtice Amley; Bob Collins, Manager of hotel; 8/1944. 83. USAF Crew Interned in Sweden at Bulltofta Airfield, 20 June 1944. 84. First USAF Aircraft to come down in Sweden. 85. Balchen designed this sledge for emergency transport of supplies in event the South Pole. Flight was forced to land. Here he is working with Sverre Strom-1929. 86. Balchen lands the “Josephine Ford” at “Little America” after reaching South Pole November 29, 1929. 87. White House reception for the BYRD Antarctic Expedition in 1930. 88. Testimonial dinner for the transatlantic flyers given by Dr. Kimball, NY weather office 1931. Front L to R: Chamberlin, Earhart, 5th from L Kimbell, standing Lindbergh 2D from L. 89. Balchen and the Northrop Plane, “Polar Star,” in preparation for the Ellsworth Antarctic Expedition 1934. 90. Bernt Balchen working on engine at Duneden, New Zealand Ellsworth Antarctic Expedition. 91. Balchen loading the Northrop “Polar Star” aircraft onboard and the “Wyatt Earp” at Duneden, New Zealand 1933. 92. “Wyatt Earp” ship caught in the Antarctic Pack Ice. 93. Crew of Norwegian Airlines “Havorn” 1935, Conrad Hegle, Lambrechts. 94. Bernt Balchen 1942 with PBY Seaplane in Greenland Official USAF photo. 95. Balchen and his unit at Bluie West-8 Greenland 1941 Balchen in center front. 96. B24 Aircraft and crew crash landed in Greenland rescued by Balchen 1942 Official USAF photo. 97. “Wyatt Earp” ship caught in the Antarctic pack ice. 98. Crew of Norwegian Airlines “Havorn” 1935, Conrad Hegle, Bernt Balchen and Finn Lambrechts. 99. Balchen loading the Northrop “Polar Star” aircraft onboard the “Wyatt Earp” at Duneden, New Zealand 1933. 100. Luncheon Sons of Norway presentation to Balchen of the Plaque of Achievement by Henry Borgessen, Director, Sons of Norway Supreme Lodge 1/1967. 101. Balchen and Riiser-Larsen on the first polar crossing of a commercial SAS aircraft-1952. 102. Proposed polar flight route by SAS in 1952. 103. Harmon Trophy award winners with President L.B. Johnson, at the White House, 10/1967. L to R: Astronauts Aldrin & Lowell, Test Pilot S. White, Balchen on right. 104. The exhausted crew of the “America: in France the morning after the successful night time ditching in the English Channel. L to R: Noville, Byrd, Acosta, Balchen-1927. 105. Byrd signs Golden Register City of Paris, Balchen third from right. 106. Balchen at the top working on the engine of the “Floyd Bennett” Aircraft in preparation for the flight to the South Pole with Byrd, 1929. 107. “America” crew waves to welcome in New York City on Board Yacht of the Mayor “Macon.” 108. Balchen skis off on the first survey for a camp upon arrival of the Byrd expedition in the Antarctica, Ship “City of New York” in background, Bay of Whales. 109. Byrd and Balchen, on the right, visit a home for disabled French Servicemen as part of their official duties in Paris following the flight of the “America”-1927. 110. German V2 rocket debris guarded by Swedish home guard soldiers, 13 June 1944. The V2 was test fired from the Peenemunde and inadvertently landed in South Sweden, near Kalmar. 111. Balchen’s operation “Where and When” unit at Kallax in northern Sweden, January 1945. 112. Bernt Balchen and his C47 unit at their HQ in Kallax, Sweden, January 1945. 113. Norwegian “Police Troops” load a Balchen C47 for transport for north Norway in January 1945. 114. Kirkenese Air Field, north of Norway 19 April 1945 L to R: Prof Vogt (Norwegian) Balchen, Statsrad, Frihagen (Govt of Norway) and senior Russian Officer. 115. Norwegian medical personnel load Balchen’s C 47 for flight to north Norway April 1945. 116. Balchen family portrait in 1907 Lauritz Balchen with his children L to R: Bernt standing, Marie in front Dagny on knee. 117. Balchen family portrait, 1903, Topdal Norway, L to R: Dagny ( in mother’s arms) Bernt, Marie (in father’s arms) Lauritz. 118. Horten Norwegian Naval Air Station, 1924 L to R: Lt. Balchen, Lt. Bron, Lt Wendelboe and Lt Harold Styhr. 119. Graduating class from the Norwegian Naval Air Service class of 1924, Balchen on the far right. 120. Floyd Bennett and Balchen on way to rescue crew of “Bremen” spring 1928. 121. Floyd Bennett and Bernt Balchen with Fokker Aircraft in 1928. 122. Balchen straddling skis at Le Pas, Manitoba Floyd Bennett 2D from right in front of Ford Tri-Motor 3/1928. 123. The “America” in the water after the successful ditching-1927. 124. The “America” in the takeoff ramp ready to fly to France. 125. Balchen at the wheel of “America: test flight Teterboro, NJ, in 1927. 126. Bernt Balchen at his art exhibition Grand Central Art Gallery, 6 January 1953 New York City. 127. General Jimmy Doolittle and Colonel Balchen at Balchen’s art exhibit, Grand Central Art Gallery, New York City, 6 January 1953. 128. Colonel Bernt Balchen, 1952 Official USAF Photo. 129. President Eisenhower presents Harmon Trophy to Colonel Bernt Balchen, 10 November 1953. 130. Balchen briefing on the strategic importance of Scandinavia, 1950. 131. Harmon Trophy Awards, Washington D.C, 12/15/1966, L to R: Balchen, Adminary Joseph Clark, Vice Pres Hubert Humphrey, Col Edwin Aldren, and Vice Admiral Claes E. Rosendahl. 132. Tony Fokker and his employees, Teterboro, NJ, 1927, Fokker in the center in a suit, Balchen on his right. 133. Staff of Western Canada Airways Hudson, Ontario, spring 1927 operations office L to R: Wilson, Balchen, Fred Stevenson, Kimmy McDougal, Al Cheeseman, and Rod Ron. 134. Bremen Rescue-L to R: Herta Junkers, Charles Murphy, Col Fitzmaurice of the Irish Air Corps, Balchen, Kaffen the German mechanic March 1928. 135. Mitchell Field, Oct 8, 1926 “Josephine Ford” on the start of the tour of USA, Guggenheim sponsored, flew over 9000 miles visited 50 cities ended at Tererboro, MJ, in Nov 1926 Floyd Bennett and Bernt Balchen pilots. 136. Balchen rebuilt and installed new skis for the Byrd aircraft in Spitsbergen, enabling Byrd to successfully take off for his attempt to fly to the North Pole. Balchen is seen on the left with an assistant at the front of the ski. A Norwegian naval officer stands to the right, 1926. 137. Balchen with the Amundsen-Ellsworth Expedition Aircraft in Spitsbergen in 1925 Advent Bay. 138. Per M. Backe and Balchen, co-directors of the Norwegian Airlines, DNL, and start up of Scandinavian Airlines System, SAS, Feb 1946. 139. USAF PBY Aircraft belly landed on the ice in a rescue operation in Greenland, 1942, Official USAF photo. 140. C47 Aircraft of the 10th rescue squadron in Alaska, 1948. 141. Balchen repairs aircraft pontoons Alaska 1949. 142. Byrd and Balchen meet at Kittyhawk, NC, on 50th anniversary of first flight 10/13/1953. 143. Adm. Richard Byrd and Col Balchen at Kittyhawk in 1953 at the 50th anniversary of the first flight-10/13/1953 (This is not a copy of #142, another pose). 144. Briefing on the construction of Thule AFB, Greenland, 8/1951 L to R: Gen Curtis Lemay and Balchen in center. 145. Thule AFB, Greenland, under construction, Aug 1951. 146. Balchen with the Chief of Staff of the USAF, Gen Hoyt Vandenberg, in route to Thule AFB, Greenland, August 1952. 147. Mt. Dunas, Thule, Greenland, exercise “Operation Windchill: March 1954. 148. Balchen Art Exhibit at the Grand Central Gallery, New York City, 6 January 1953 L to R: Keith Martin, Eddie Laga, Jimmy Doolittle, Gen Hoyt Vandenburg, Balchen, Trygve Lie (Secy Gen of the United Nations), Mrs. Cary and Mrs. Doolittle. 149. Balchen working on a water color painting at home in Alexandria, in 1952.


Physical Description: 150. Photo copy: Antarctica 1927 Martin Roune & Balchen photos. 151. Photo copy: Class of 1923 Hernosand Forestry School Sweden. 152. Photo copy: photo of Balchen Greenland April 1942. 153. Photo copy: picture of Balchen with “Polar Star” aircraft. 154. Photo copy: picture of Balchen with Jack Northrop 1932. 155. Photo copy: front page NY Times Nov 30 1929 Byrd flight to South Pole. 156. Photo copy: front page NY Times Dec 1 1929, Byrd flight to South Pole. 157. Photo copy: picture of Amelia Earhart & note from A.E. to Balchen. 158. Photocopies of Balchen and Riser-Larsen on the First Polar Crossing of a Commercial. SAS aircraft 1952. Part of Colonel Bernt Balchen and Audrey Balchen Collection. 159. Photocopy of picture of Ltd. Colonel Bernt Balchen at the Greenland Ice Cap. August 6, 1942. 160. Photo of Bernt Balchen and Floyd Bennett and other unidentified persons in Winnipeg, Canada 1928. 161. Photocopy of letter to Colonel Bernt Balchen from James A. Farley September 30, 1955. 162. Photocopies of Colonel Bernt Balchen and officers in his command. Greenland January 15, 1943 (+list of names). 163. Photocopies of Bolero movement routes, copy of map, and explanation of the Bolero movement. 164. Photocopies of the History of the B-17E “My Gal Sal” The Flying Fortress (5pgs). 165. Photo copy including Balchen & Bennett among others, Winnipeg, Canada 1928.

Pilot’s License and Business Card

Physical Description: 166. Pilot’s License #941 Dec 31 1936. 167. Pilot’s License #941 July 31 1937.


Physical Description: 168. Republic of France July 12, 1927 Affidavit of Colonel Balchen’s identification. 2 copies. 169. Record of Disposition June 1987. 170. House of Representatives Report # 808, 82nd Congress, 1st Session. “Appointing Bernt Balchen as a permanent colonel in the Regular Air Force. 171. Congressional Record. 172. Photo copy: passport replacement document July 12 1927.


Physical Description: 173. Photo Sketch: 4 men signed “To Bernt: Souvenir of a hell of a time” Bert- The Hague 1959.


Physical Description: 174. 3 telegrams of congratulations to Bernt Balchen on efforts to open commercial polar routes. 175. Original telegram to Balchen from Balbo May 24 1932. 176. Original telegram to Balchen from Amelia Earhart May 22 1932. 177. 3 telegrams of congratulations to Bernt Balchen on efforts to open commercial polar routes.