Balchen, Bernt, 1899-1979—Norwegian/American Explorer and Pilot. From a very early age Balchen was fascinated by the allure of the Polar regions and the prospect of using aviation to explore them. From 1925 until well after World War II he was involved in many of the most dramatic and often dangerous exploits of many of the Polar explorers and he knew most of them: Amundsen, Nobile, Ellsworth, Byrd, etc. and he is widely believed to be the first person to fly over both Poles, with Amundsen in the North and Byrd in the South. He held dual citizenship of both Norway and the United States, and served in the US Army Air Force in secret operations supporting the Norwegian resistance during the World War II.
Although as a child Balchen read a great deal about Polar adventures, his adult autobiography shows little sign that reading played any role in his professional life as a career aviator. The book is included here as one of the best written and least narcissistic of personal polar accounts. There is no indication that this is a translation from his native Norwegian, nor whether he used a ghost writer in preparing the book. His WWII adventures in northern Norway are particularly compelling.