Celebration: Anniversary of Wien’s historic flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks

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One hundred years after Noel Wien and Bill Yunker flew an open-cockpit Hisso Standard J1 biplane from Anchorage to Fairbanks, aviation enthusiasts, family, and friends will mark that historic flight with a celebration in Fairbanks sure to attract plenty of political and civic figures.

It was in July 15, 1924 that Wien made history. At the time, there were no navigational aids or airstrips along the way and few roads to land on, if an emergency arose. A train track would guide the way; the Parks Highway wasn’t completed until 1971. It was wilderness, and the crude airstrip at Cantwell was not clear enough to land on.

Wien made a few aviation excursions with the biplane before the historic flight Wien’s first Alaska flight left the Delaney airstrip on June 4, 1924. Then he flew Anchorage’s first passenger flight and performed the state’s first aviation aerobatic show for the Fourth of July. On July 15, after several delays due to heavy forest fire smoke on the route, Wien and Yunker, who was the passenger and mechanic, departed the Delaney airstrip heading to Weeks Field in Fairbanks, making the trip in three hours and 45 minutes.

Wien, grandfather of Senate candidate Leslie Hajdukovich, had many other “firsts in flight” in Alaska, including the first bush flight to Livengood in support of mining operations, the first flight to Nome, and the first flight over the Arctic Circle. On that trip, he ran out of fuel and was forced to land on a gravel bar on his return flight. He walked 70 miles over three days, crossing rivers and tundra, with only three dry biscuits.

Wien is known as the “Father of Alaska Bush Flying.” His pilot certificate was No. 39, and wa signed by Orville Wright. He founded Wien Air Alaska in 1927, the first airline in Alaska and one of the first airlines in the United States. Among things he is known for is pioneering the use of jets for gravel runways, and innovating ways to carry both cargo and passengers in Boeing 737 jets.

Born in 1899, Wien died in 1977. His legendary status as an aviator was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010.

At the anniversary celebration on Tuesday in Fairbanks, hosted by former Rep. Jay Ramras, Gov. Mike Dunleavy will make remarks, followed by Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Richard Wien. The celebration starts at 5:30 p.m. at Pike’s Landing.

4 COMMENTS

  1. How can this be celebrated?

    He used a combustion engine, wasn’t in drag, and didn’t slander Trump or the Constitution. Plus a multitude of other sins to numerous to mention.

    Modern Alaska celebrates deviance and victimhood. Not risk and achievement.

  2. I was there last night. Great celebration, F35 flyovers, some good stories, awesome history on the early bush pilots. My dad flew in the second wave of same, coming to Elmendorf in ’51; flying for Territorial Police ’54-56; then bush service until ’65 when he headed off to the far east.

    Didn’t get to hear near enough ‘true lies’ from him as he never really opened up until his memory started to fail. I do have the old flight logs (55 years worth) and they truly fill in some of the tales he and mom shared over the years.

    And, yes, he was based in Manley Hot Springs for a time. I guess Fairbanks was too cosmopolitan for him….

    Oh, there was a negative: A dozen or so Hamas-loving, Jew-hating clowns were there, doing their best to spoil Jay’s efforts to honor the family. Truly, these people have nothing good to contribute to society.

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