Longines Chronoscope/17-02-1954

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Longines Chronoscope 17-02-1954  (1954) 
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Narrator
It's time for the Longines Chronoscope, a television journal of the important issues of the hour, brought to you every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, a presentation of the Longines-Wittnauer watch company. maker of Longines, the world's most honored watch, and Wittnauer, distinguished companion to the world's honored Longines.

Frank Knight
Good evening. This is Frank Knight. May I introduce our co-editors for this edition of the Longines Chronoscope: Larry Lesueur, from the CBS television news staff, and Kenneth Crawford, national affairs editor of Newsweek magazine. Our distinguished guest for this evening is Colonel Bernt Balchen, the Arctic expert of the United States Air Force.

Larry Lesueur
Colonel Balchen, we can see by your chest that you have received many military distinctions, but I don't think you've ever gotten sufficient credit for expanding the world's air frontiers more than any other man has. Now, which do you consider your greatest achievement: the visit to the South Pole or to the North Pole?

Colonel Bernt Balchen
I consider the South Pole a greater achievement than my many later visits to the North Pole, because it culminated two and a half years of intense work and planning together with Admiral Byrd to achieve the flight to the South Pole in 1929. In comparison there equipment and the techniques we had at that time and now, I consider it a greater achievement as far as achieving the flight across the Pole.

Kenneth Crawford
Colonel, the North Pole, however, has much more importance strategically, is it not?

Balchen
Yes it is, and airpower has brought the North Pole into our strategic thinking today.

Lesueur
Well, Colonel, you were the American project officer in building the great American airbase at Thule in Greenland. Now, what is its strategic importance?

Balchen
Its strategic importance is this: that it is one of the key points in the defense of the North American continent and one of the best resources in the defense of the democracies of the world. It's so strategically located that the best way to explain the thing is, for anybody who wants to look at it more closely, take a globe and see its location, and we can track from certain basic facts the location of the population of the globe today: over 85% of them are located in the northern hemisphere between latitudes 35 and 50 North, and where they are located, industries are located, and industries of today, militarily speaking, are our strategic targets.

Crawford
Is that, Colonel, wholly a defensive base for radar and interception in case of attack, or is it also useful as a base for attack by us?

Balchen
An effective defense installation must also be offensive.

Lesueur
What about the commercial possibilities of the Thule airbase? Is that open to the world for peacetime travel too?

Balchen
Yes it does. And I suggest that the location of industries and populations the airplane has the facility which put the Arctic in center of our world in our age. Namely, it can take the shortest route between any two places on the globe. and all the shortest routes--the great circle course--converge towards the North Pole. Some of them will even go across the geographic pole. If for instance we would go the shortest route from here to Karachi in India, The great circle course would take us straight across the North Pole. If we would go from here for instance to the Middle East we go through the high Arctic, north of Greenland, we will save several thousand miles. For Europe for instance is of tremendous importance is bases Thule and Alaska. Travel from London to Tokyo would save over two thousand miles one way, while going across the Arctic instead of the conventional way today.

Lesueur
Well, Colonel, you piloted the first aircraft over the South Pole. now, has that continent down there got any strategic importance?

Balchen
It has some strategic significance. For instance, the Panama Canal should be blocked, all vessels that couldn't go through the Panama Canal which had to go around Cape Horn. but it has not. But this high priority strategic significance, as the high Arctic, as the North Pole has? General Arnold, in his book, Global Mission, says if a third world war should come, its strategic center is the North Pole.

Crawford
Colonel, because of the New Look military policy--the so called New Look, with greater emphasis being placed on strategic bombing, I assume that we can guess that the enemy or potential enemy also will put new stress on strategic bombing. That makes Thule more important than ever, does it not?

Balchen
Makes it more a key point in the whole defense system because the High North, General Spaatz said in 1946, the Arctic will one day become the byways for our operational measures. It works both ways, there are all open across the High North. that was in 1946. Thule is one of the bases that's closing the gap in the Northern defense of our continent.

Lesueur
Colonel, in connection with what Mr. Crawford has just said, we saw some pictures the other day in the public papers of two Russian bombers that which were supposed to be similar to our B-36 and B-52s. Did you happen to see them? Were you impressed by them?

Belchen
I saw them in the paper, and I haven't seen any more than you have seen. I was not impressed. I am more impressed by what I have seen in our technical magazines, that our designers have in the paper, on coming strategic operational aircraft.

Crawford
You think in other words that we are still way ahead on strategic aircraft.

Belchen
I believe so. I am firmly convinced so.

Lesueur
Well, may I ask you, Colonel, something about your experiences in flying? What would you say was your most thrilling experience?

Belchen
Well, that's difficult to say. but I think one of the most difficult missions I've had was a rescue operation in Greenland in 1942-43. It took us six months to get a stranded bomber through off the Greenland icecap. We lost five men on the rescue. We got the rest of them out after trying all kinds of means to get in and get them back to civilization and get them back to their home.

Lesueur
Well, Bernt, does that give your greatest satisfaction of your career?

Balchen
It has given me some of the greatest satisfaction of career, to help other people in distress and get them back so they can meet their relatives and their dear ones again and to get them back to the services.

Crawford
Colonel, is Thule developed as far as it will be?

Balchen
Thule is now completed, I agree. It's a chain in our arctic defense system; when that is completed, that's a thing that's open to opinion, what we mean by a complete defense chain

Lesueur
Well, Colonel, without breaching any security regulations, can we ask you just what is up on that Thule airbase?

Balchen
It's a city in itself up in the High Arctic, there's a military installation, as we said, built there for the sole purpose of the defense of our continent. Whether the defense is a pure defensive operation or it's an offensive defense operation, well that is as the situation will call for it.

Crawford
Would you locate that, Colonel? How far from the Pole? How far above the Circle?

Balchen
It's six hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, it's seventy six degrees degrees and third north latitude. it's eight hundred and ten miles from the geographic North Pole. Half way between New York and Moscow.

Crawford
Unpleasant place to live?

Balchen
No, I wouldn't say so. To be so high up in the High North, we are rather favored by a milder climate than comparative latitudes in other places. They call it the garden spot of the Arctic. There are certain people that differ with us, but there are always differences of opinion.

Crawford
You've lived there a good deal, have you not?

Balchen
Yes I have.

Lesueur
Colonel, you've been up there for many years and many visits. Have you ever seen anything suspicious up there, like, say, flying saucers?

Balchen
No, not yet, but we have one thing that's very peculiar and very characteristic of the Arctic: very weird displays of Aurora Borealis, and other light and optical phenomena, for which there are sometimes light and sun rays. But the saucers haven't arrived as yet, as far as I know.

Lesueur
This is what you paint, Colonel?

Balchen
I try, and one of my hobbies, to paint, to depict the colors as I see them in the Arctic, to try to convey some of my impressions of the High North. They have a richer array of colors up there, it's not dark, cold and bleak. Colors are cold, but they have a lot of color all the same.

Lesueur
Now, Colonel, I attended your exhibition here the other day, and I wondered how you actually were able to paint from the cockpit of an aircraft high up in the air.

Balchen
You can--there are many ways to compose a painting and to get your impressions home with you, you can set it down on a larger sheet of paper than you can handle in a cockpit. The space is confined there, and with a small watercolor box and small pad you can catch the colors and put them on the paper. You can also make a thumbnail sketch, an outline, and write down there in a shorthand you develop what you see, and then take it home, and also train your memory to remember these beautiful colors you have up there.

Lesueur
Now, Colonel, as the first man to fly over both poles, can you tell us, do you still have any unsatisfied ambitions?

Balchen
Well, that's rather a difficult question to answer, but one of my greatest satisfactions for my interests in the Arctic and the defense of our continent was to see, when it was decided Thule would be built. Yes I have some unsatisfied (illegible text) ends: to see the completion of a network of a defense chain across the Arctic that will in the future sometime be the airways across the polar regions.

Lesueur
Well, as a final question, could I ask you, Colonel, do you think it's really possible to prevent the enemy from going across those vast arctic wastes into our homeland?

Balchen
Nobody can prevent an intruder there unless you have a very strong defensive chain across there, but as always of a great value to our defense back there on Thule, fighters, to know when they are coming, from where they are coming, and how many there are coming, and there is a mission for our defense chain across the Arctic.

Lesueur
I see, it will alert us against their coming.

Balchen
Yes, to find out there's an uncalled for visitor coming.

Lesueur
I see. Thank you very much Colonel Balchen, it's been a great privilege to have you here tonight.

Balchen
And a pleasure to be with you, I can assure you.

Knight
The opinions you've heard our speakers express tonight have been entirely their own. The editorial board for this edition of the Longines Chronoscope: Larry Lasueur and Kenneth Crawford. Our distinguished guest was Colonel Bernt Balchen, the Arctic expert of the United States Air Force.

Knight
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Knight
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Knight
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Produced

and Directed by

ALAN R. CARTOUN

Longines Chronoscope

is a

CBS Television

Network Production