|Roy Dickson 1930s Alaska Bush Pilot
|FIRST TIME PUBLISHED
|BIOGRAPHIES (C - D) of 1920s-1930s Era ALASKA BUSH PILOTS
ESTOL CALL - He was half-brother to L. "Mac" McGee, and came to Alaska to fly for McGee
Airways. Later started his own operation in Bristol Bay with Hans Seversen of Iliamna. His
hangar at Merrill Field in Anchorage burned in 1938.
ROBERT "BOB" CARLSON - Learned to fly in Anchorage in early 1930's. Flew out of Merrill Field to Interior
Alaska. Died in airplane crash at Platinum in 1937. He crashed in a raging snow storm while on a mercy flight to
Goodnews Bay Mining Company.
JACK CARR - Was mechanic on Frank Dorbandt's 1934 Tri-motor Ford flight from Los Angeles to Anchorage. Was
mechanic for Star Air Service, later started flying school and fixed base operation at Merrill Field, Anchorage.
Instrumental in starting Alaska Civil Air Patrol. Died of natural causes.
JOHN CROSS - Came first to Cordova to fly for Kirkpatrick. Later worked for Wien; then started own operation,
Northern Cross Airways. Back later to Wien in Kotzebue where he retired in the 1960's.
HAKON "CHRIS" CHRISTENSEN - The "Flying Dane", born 1902 in Denmark.
Immigrated to US & learned to fly in 1917 in Iowa, barnstorming in the midwest. Came to
Anchorage in 1933, moved to Fairbanks to fly for Ed Leardahl. In 1934 started flying into
the mines from Cantwell in a Curtiss Robin. Opened Christensen's Flying Service & in 1939
bought a Grumman Widgeon. Was one of the first pilots to land mountain climbing
expeditions on Mt. McKinley. He sold the flying service to Cordova Airlines in 1952. Died
in crash of the Grumman Widgeon near Cordova in April 1956 in a snow storm on a flight
from Seattle to Cordova with a stop in Yakutat.
ALONZO "LON" COPE - Born in Camp County, Texas in 1897, came to Anchorage in 1926.
One of the founders of Anchorage Air Transport and mechanic for Russ Merrill. In 1930
formed Dorbandt-Cope with Frank Dorbandt; sold to Pacific International Airways in 1931,
which sold to Pacific Alaska Airways. Learned to fly in Anchorage when with PIA. In 1932
went to Brownsville, TX with Pan Am, them back to Juneau as an independent, then went
with Alaska Coastal and flew for years in Southeast Alaska. Crashed in a snow storm March
1939 on flight from Ketchikan to Juneau; Lon and his 4 passengers were killed instantly.
JOSEPH E. "JOE" CROSSON - Born June 29, 1903 at Minneapolis, Kansas. He and his sister,
Marvel (1904-1939) learned to fly in San Diego, CA and barnstormed together before he accepted
an offer from Fairbanks Aircraft Co., in March 1926. Joe & Ben Eielson were pilots on the 1928
Wilkins - Hearst Antarctic Expedition. He was one of the pilots who found site of Eielson crash in
Siberia in 1929. Flew bodies of Will Rogers and Wiley Post out of Barrow in 1935. Later headed
Pacific Alaska Airways, the Pan American Subsidiary. After leaving PanAm, he started an aircraft
parts & maintenance business at Boeing Field in Seattle. Joe died suddenly in Seattle in 1949 at age
45. He was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum Hall of Fame in 2002.
ROY SHELTON DICKSON - Born February 10, 1901 at Van Zandt County, Texas. Learned to
fly at Tex Rankin's Flying School in Vancouver, WA. Brought a B-1 Ryan to Alaska in March 1934.
Flew for Alaska Exploration & Mining Co., McGee Airways, Woodley Airways, Star Air Lines, and
founded Bering Sea Airways. Read his fascinating story in his new book Roy Dickson 1930s
Alaska Bush Pilot.
JAMES M. "JIM" DODSON - Born Philadelphia, PA January 11, 1902. Came
to Alaska in 1927 to be commercial fisherman. Learned to fly in Naval Reserve
in Florida. Served on active duty on carriers Saratoga & Lexington. Came back
to Alaska to fly for Pioneer Airways out of Ketchikan. Came to Anchorage in
early 1930s and flew from Merrill Field to Kuskokwim and Bristol Bay for
McGee Airways and Bowman Airways. Went to Fairbanks in 935 to fly for
Noel Wien. In 1936 formed Jim Dodson Air Service and in 1947 joined with
four other outfits to form Northern Consolidated Airlines. Died in Anchorage in
FRANK G. DORBANDT - Born 1893 in Detroit, MI. Came to Alaska in 1929 to join Russ
Merrill as second pilot for Anchorage Air Transport. Flew for Eielson's company, Alaska
Airways & in 1929 was flying a Stinson on same expedition where Eielson lost his life. In 1930
formed Dorbandt-Cope with Lon Cope selling it to Pacific International Airways in 1931. Flew
for PIA based in Anchorage, and did a lot of flying in the Valley of the Ten Thousand Smokes
area. Flew mercy flights to the North Coast of Siberia in 1930 & 1931. In the Summer of 1932,
Dorbandt flew Father Hubbard to explore Aniakchak Crater. He landed on a lake in the crater
while the volcano was still erupting in another part of the crater. This was the first time a
plane had landed inside an active volcano. In 1938 Frank flew a Tri-motor Ford from Los
Angeles to Anchorage for Ptamigan Airways. Was an excellent pilot with a reputation as a dare
devil, often in trouble with the CAA. Died in 1935 of pneumonia in Fairbanks, buried in
ED DORRANCE - Arrived Cordova early-1930s. Later moved to Copper Center & with Al Lyle started Lyle and
Dorrance Airways with service to 40 Mile Country, Nabesna and Copper River Valley. Died in airplane crash in 40
Mile Country in 1937. Buried in Dawson, Yukon Territory.
WESLEY EARL DUNKLE - Born Clarendon, PA 1887, graduated Yale University 1908. A
mining engineer he came to Alaska in August 1910 to work in the Beatson Mine in Prince William
Sound. Came to Anchorage in 1930. Operated Lucky Shot mine in mountains near Willow.
Learned to fly with Steve Mills in Seattle. Operated the first ambulance plane which had room
for a stretcher and a nurse. He taught Toivo Aho to fly. Was one of the original investors who
helped to start Star Air Service and was President from 1932 - 1938. He was the main promoter
of building a canal to connect Lake Spenard & Lake Hood to provide a better sea plane base for
Anchorage. Went back to mining & died at Golden Zone Gold camp in 1957, buried in Anchorage.