|Roy Dickson 1930s Alaska Bush Pilot
|FIRST TIME PUBLISHED
|BIOGRAPHIES (A - B) of 1920s-1930s Era ALASKA BUSH PILOTS
TOIVO AHO - Born about 1915 at Knik, moved to Anchorage 1919. Wesley Dunkle taught him
to fly. Operated Aho Flying Service out of Anchorage. While ferrying a Stinson through Canada in
1938, died in crash in Yukon Territory.
HARVEY W. "BARNEY" BARNHILL - Born about 1902 in Ohio. Learned to fly in 1920 as a
U.S. Navy recruit at the Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois. Arrived in Alaska in 1929. Was
part of Carl Ben Eielson's team in Fairbanks transporting personnel & a fortune in furs from the
merchant ship Nanuck that was stranded in the ice of the coast of Siberia. He flew in the search
for the Eielson wreck after his fatal crash in the winter of 1929/30. Barney & Linious "Mac"
McGee purchased a three-seat Stinson in 1931 & founded Barnhill & McGee Airways which
became McGee Airways after they dissolved their partnership in about 1932. Died in automobile
accident near Spokane, WA in the late 1950's.
LUCIEN "FRANK" BARR - Born August 22, 1903 Lawrence County, Colorado, came to Alaska
1932. Varied career from southeastern Alaska to the Interior to the Yukon. Barr Air Transport was
his one-man, one-plane company. Best known on Gillam's mail run from Fairbanks to Bethel, also
flew bush for Alaska Airlines. Territorial Senator, member Alaska Constitutional Convention, US
Marshall. Retired to Grants Pass, Oregon & died there in April 1983.
JOE BARROWS - Born in 1903 in California, soloed at age 16 in Los Angeles. Joe & Alex
Holden founded Pacific Alaska Airways which they expanded from British Colbumbia to
Alaska. Joe flew original air mail runs Fairbanks to Bethel, Fairbanks to Nome. Went on to
fly for Pan American Airways after Pan Am purchased PIA. He was Chief Pilot for PanAm's
Pacific Division from 1941 to 1945. He retired in San Francisco area, and died 6 Feb 1983
at Fresno, CA.
ALMER A. "A.A." BENNETT - Born about 1888 in Oregon. Was a pilot in San Diego, CA and came to Alaska in the
mid-1920's. Believed to be the first pilot to land on Kuskokwim River ice at Bethel. Flew for Fairbanks Airplane
Company and was flying partner of Bennett-Rodebaugh Company in Fairbanks. He brought Joe Crosson to Alaska.
A.A. left the territory for Idaho in 1930. Later lived in Las Vegas, Nevada He was inducted into the Alaska Aviation
Museum Hall of Fame in 2012.
EDWARD "LONNIE" BRENNAN - Born December 28, 1898. Became a commercial pilot in
1920, flew out of Vancouver, Bremerton & Seattle, WA before coming to Alaska to fly for Wien.
In 1939 established Lon Brennan Flying Service out of Manley Hot Springs. Retired in 1948, died
May 1967 at Stanwood, Washington. (Picture courtesy Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection,
Museum of History & Industry)
HUGH BREWSTER - First "temporary" CAA Department of Commerce aircraft inspector in Alaska. Was Marine
pilot in WW II. Died in an auto accident in California in the 1950's.
CHET BROWNE - Born in 1909 in Missouri, grew up in Colorado. Flew in the Nome, Fairbanks and Anchorage areas.
Purchased a Tri-motor Ford and formed Arctic Airways. Perhaps most famous for finding a spot in Southeast Alaska to
land the Tri-motor Ford when the weather turned bad on an early trip to Seattle. Chet taught Archie Ferguson to fly.
In August 1935 he flew photographer Alfred Loman to the Wiley Post / Will Rogers crash site near Barrow and flew
the film back to Fairbanks, passing it on to Noel Wien who flew the film to Seattle. He flew The HUMP in World War
II, stayed in the Orient and founded Siam Airlines.
NATHAN C. "NAT" BROWNE - Born March 31, 1895 in Texas. Flew in South America. In
about 1932 attempted to fly from Seattle to Tokyo, but the aircraft came apart during
refueling attempt and he parachuted to safety. Came to Alaska in early 1930's with a Faden,
one of the earliest all-metal planes, which he demolished in a wreck near Valdez. Formed Nat
Browne Flying Service out of Valdez, then Fairbanks & Anchorage, then out of Bethel for
many years. Flew mail routes to Lower Kuskowim & Yukon villages and to Goodnews Bay.
Closed air service in 1950 after receiving contract to map DEW line radar sites. Moved to
South 48 in mid-1950's. Died in August 1979 at Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Picture courtesy
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection,Museum of History & Industry)
HARRY L. BLUNT - Called the "Bristol Bay Sea Hawk" by the "Glacier Priest" Father
Hubbard. Also known as "The Bering Sea Eagle." Harry was born 28 July 1889 at Sprague,
WA. Harry & Joe Barrows were partners in Pacific International Airways when they
expanded from British Columbia to Alaska. On June 2, 1931 Harry, with co-pilot Al Monson
made the first flight down the Alaska Peninsula past Kodiak Island when they flew Father
Hubbard in a float plane to Chignik. In 1932 Pan American Airways purchased Pacific
International and Alaska Airways forming Pacific Alaska Airways. Harry flew for Pacific
Alaska Airways stationed in Anchorage. He died 30 March 1985 at Spokane, WA. Picture
courtesy of Claxton Printers, Ltd, Caldwell, ID
VERNON BOOKWALTER - Born November 18, 1892 in Oregon. Was a pilot & mechanic for
Tex Rankin in Portland, Oregon in 1925. Made the first contract Air Mail flight in the northwest
in 1926 flying from Vancouver, WA to Los Angeles in his TravelAir. In 1934 purchased a
Tri-motor Ford from Grand Canyon Airlines of Arizona & flew to Alaska to organize and operate
White Pass Airways out of Skagway. He and wife Esther also operated a gold mine near Nome.
Was honored by United Airlines for being first pilot to fly mail on the Seattle - San Francisco run.
Died November 19, 1975 at Nome, Alaska.
EDWARD J. "PADDY" BURKE - Born in Ireland in 1890. In March 1929 made the first
flight of a flying boat from Seattle to Juneau to assess the feasibility of an airmail service to
Alaska. He was flying for Airland Manufacturing Co. of Vancouver, B.C. in the fall of 1930,
when he and his mechanic Emil Kadin took a prospector "Three-fingered Bob" Martin on what
was to be a round trip from Atlin to Liar Post. On the return leg severe storms forced them
down and the plane was too damaged to fly. A massive search was launched. Pat Renahan, a
bush pilot flying for Alaska Washington Airways was lost white searching for the group. After
days exposed to the severe weather and with rations exhausted, Paddy Burke died from
exposure and starvation. Martin and Kading were rescued after two months in the wilderness
by pilot Everett Wasson and a trapper Joe Walsh who were part of the search effort.