Passing: Legendary aviator Orin Seybert

Orin Seybert standing next to an airplane used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to patrol the Bristol Bay salmon fishery on display at the Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage, Dec. 27, 2018. Photo credit: Katherine Ringsmuth

Orin Seybert, founder, owner, and operator of Peninsula Airways took “his final flight west,” on Friday. He was 87 when he passed.

Seybert was a pioneer in developing the infrastructure and modern aviation transportation framework in Alaska today.

In 1955, Seybert started Pen Air in his home at Pilot Point, beginning with a 1946 Taylorcraft. Penair grew into the largest regional air carrier in the state and was in operation for 65 years. Penair began as a means for transporting local residents to hospitals for care that was unavailable in their communities.

“Orin was a true public servant in his service to his fellow Alaskans,” his family wrote.

Orin was a recipient of the Wright Brothers’ Master Pilot award as well as an inductee of the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame, among many other accolades.

“He was a respected pilot and businessman who was lucky enough to find his true passion in aviation. He was known as the finest Grumman pilot in the world, and flew his widgeon to all parts of Alaska often times being the only airplane to fly into some of the most remote parts of Alaska. He truly was a legend,” his family said in a statement this weekend.

Later in life, Seybert had a personal passion for the Alaska Aviation Museum to succeed and took pride in helping it achieve growth. The museum showcases an important and unique side of Alaska’s history and development as a state.

“Orin left a tremendous impact on it. Orin was a great historian, who shared many stories, pieces of history, and aviation lore with the museum for preservation,” the family wrote.

“Orin was first and foremost a proud husband, father, brother, and grandfather to over 66 direct family members. He often laughingly joked at family events, ‘I am responsible for this mess.'”

He is preceded in death by his wife of 40 years, Jennie; and his children Andrew, Cecilia; brother Darryl, and mother Clarice. 


  1. His brother inlaw Boris shared with me a story when they landed in Anchorage at night with nothing but a zippo lighter to read the instruments. Great pilot.

  2. RIP Orin. The Aleutians will never forget you. Thank you for PenAir and your commitment to the region.

  3. My flights on the Goose from Cold Bay and from Dutch onto lakes on Unimak to study the volcanoes there are valued memories.

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