Col. Balchen and Mr. Post

Col. Bernt Balchen 1899-1973

Born in Tveit, near Kristiansand, Norway, Bernt Balchen was the son of a country doctor. He joined the French Foreign Legion in 1918 to begin a military career that would see him serve with distinction in the Norwegian Army, as a volunteer fighting for Finland’s independence, in the Norwegian Naval Air Force, assisting the RAF, and joining the US Army Air force in 1940. Balchen was an expert navigator and aircraft mechanic, as well as aviator. He assisted Commander Byrd's Expedition and was invited by Byrd to come to America where he joined Fokker as test pilot. In 1926, Balchen was a pilot for Cmdr. Byrd on a transatlantic flight and his expert landing off the French coast saved the crew. Balchen was chief pilot for Byrd's historic Antarctic Expedition in 1928-1930 and became the first to fly over the South Pole. Upon returning to the United States, Balchen continued working as test pilot for Fokker. He returned to Norway in 1935 to help organize the Norwegian civil airline and pave the way for a Scandinavian civil airline union. He was instrumental in the eventual creation of SAS later in 1946.

In 1939 Balchen served as a consultant to the Finnish Air Staff, as well as a member of the Norwegian Armaments Commission. He successfully negotiated a cooperative US-Scandinavian civil air agreement for transatlantic flights in 1940. Later that year he served the RAF by ferrying aircraft to the Far East. Called to Washington by Gen "Hap" Arnold, he joined the US Army Air Force on September 5 and was deployed to Greenland to build a new key airfield in the North Atlantic aircraft ferry route, "Bluie West-8". In January of 1944 Balchen was transferred to the UK to work for the Air Transport Command and the OSS by opening an air transport route from the UK to Stockholm.

After the war Balchen became president of Norwegian Airlines. In 1946 he helped form the SAS. He rejoined the USAF in 1948 and commanded an air rescue unit in Alaska. A 1949 flight from Alaska to Norway made him the first pilot to fly across both poles. He retired from the USAF in 1956.

Col. Balchen was a founder and honorary chairman of the International Aviation Snow Symposium. He died in 1973.


Wilfred M. "Wiley" Post 1914-1996

Wiley Post was a founder and served as general chairman of the International Aviation Snow Symposium for 20 years. His involvement in aviation dates back to 1936, when he earned a degree in aviation administration and then began flying for an air-commuter service.

Post served as manager of Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Airport (ABE) from 1938 to 1983. During World War II, he organized the base operation at ABE that trained more than 1,500 aviation cadets.

Post became a charter member of the National Aviation Trades Association in 1940 and served on its Board of Directors. He was an Accredited Airport Executive, served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Airport Executives, and was an active member of the Northeast Chapter/AAAE until his death in November 1996.