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Bernt Balchen is born

Today in Masonic history Bernt Balchen is born in 1899.

Bernt Balchen was a pioneer polar aviator, navigator, aircraft mechanical engineer and military leader.

Balchen was born in Norway and eventually immigrated to the United States.

Balchen had a varied and long service in the military and in different countries. In 1918 he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and served during World War I in Verdun. He would return to Norway before seeing any combat with the French Foreign Legion and would transfer to the Norwegian Army. In the Norwegian Army he trained in artillery.

Balchen served the White Guard a calvary unit in the Finnish Civil war. He fought under an assumed name. During a calvary charge his horse was shot out from under him and he was left on the battlefield for dead.

After Balchen's recovery form the injuries received during the Finnish Civil war he began training strenuously as a boxer, hoping to represent Norway in the 1920 Olympics. At the same time he had applied to become a pilot and in 1921 became a pilot in the Royal Norwegian Air Service.

In 1929 Balchen would become one of the first for men to fly over the South Pole. The expedition was put together by Commander Richard E. Byrd who Balchen knew from a few years earlier as several teams worked to become the first to reach the North Pole.

During World War II Balchen would work with Canada to setup a "Little Norway" for expatriated pilots to be trained for combat, due to the Russian invasion of Finland.

Balchen dropped Masonic flags over both poles and on one occasion dropping his fez on the South Pole.