I happened to be in Bethel May 26-27 when three vintage aircraft flew in to celebrate aviation history that opened remote Alaska to the world thanks to small planes. Event planners expected 300 people to show up to greet the visitors; instead, three times as many people turned out. “The whole town came!” exclaimed one man.
For a long sunny afternoon, kids and parents got to climb up and view vintage cockpits of World War II T-6 trainers and talk to the men and women who flew the planes to Bethel. Later at a community celebration, they described their aircraft, and told the story of the first plane to fly in Alaska, in 1913, in Fairbanks.
Pilot Jane Dale described how that plane was barged to Fairbanks in pieces, assembled and flown for several days while owners waited and hoped to find a buyer. When one failed to materialize, the owners had to break it down and barge it back out. It would be the 1920s before post World War I planes flew again in Alaska.
Join me, host Kathleen McCoy, and Alaska Aviation Centennial guests Jane Dale and Chuck Miller to hear the stories of Alaska’s earliest aviators. Both have been participating in summer-long fly-ins around the state to commemorate the centennial year. Events like the one in Bethel are taking place all summer long. Stops include Anchorage, Cordova, Valdez, Homer, Illiamna, King Salmon, Dillingham, Bethel, Aniak, McGrath, Galena, Unalakleet, Nome, Kotzebue, Barrow, Fairbanks, Talkeetna, and Wasilla. A final event is planned July 14 with a salmon bake at Lake Hood and special guest aviators Patty Wagstaff and Debby Geary. The centennial celebration is sponsored by the Alaska Air Show Association.
In the studio
- Jane Dale, pilot
- Chuck Miller, pilot, vice president Alaska Air Show Association
- Centennial Celebration, five statewide fly-in routes
- Centennial Fly-in photo albums
- Centennial Celebration participating aircraft
- Bush Pilot history panels
- Commemorative Air Force, Alaska Wing
- Alaska Aviation Museum
- Alaska Film Archive Noel Wien Interview (1 of 4 parts)
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HOST: Kathleen McCoy
LIVE BROADCAST: Wednesday, June 12, 2013. 2:00 – 3:00 pm (Alaska time)
REPEAT BROADCAST: Wednesday, June 12, 2013. 7:00 – 8:00 pm (Alaska time)