|Roy Dickson 1930s Alaska Bush Pilot
|FIRST TIME PUBLISHED
|BIOGRAPHIES (E - G) of 1920s-1930s Era ALASKA BUSH PILOTS
BEN EASLEY - Flew Curtiss Robin out of Candle in mid-1930's. Died in aircraft accident in Norton Sound, between
Kotzebue and Deering in mid-1930's.
ANSCEL ECKMANN - Made first non-stop flight between Seattle & Juneau in 1929 in Wasp-powered Lockheed
Vega on floats for Alaska Washington Airways. Flight took 9 hours 35 minutes. Jack Halloran was mechanic on the
flight & R. E. "Bob" Ellis was navigator. Continued to fly in Southeastern Alaska.
CARL BENJAMIN EIELSON - Born at Hatton, North Dakota in 1897. The second most famous
American aviation pioneer after Charles Lindbergh. Arrived in Fairbanks in 1922 as a school
teacher. In 1923 pioneered air mail service in Alaska flying twice monthly mail from Fairbanks to
McGrath in an open cockpit DeHavilland. In September 1928 Eielson & Joe Crosson were pilots on
the Wilkins - Hearst Antarctic Expedition. Also in 1928 Eielson received the Distinguished Flying
Cross for flying Sir Hubert Wilkins from Point Barrow to Spitzbergen, Norway in a Lockheed Vega,
the first flight across the North Pole. Purchased Anchorage Air Transport in 1929 and changed the
name to Alaska Airways. Obtained a contract to fly 15 stranded passengers & six tons of furs from
the trading ship Nanuck which was stranded in the ice off Siberia. Carl and his mechanic Earl
Borland were killed in their Hamilton Metalplane in Siberia November 9, 1929 on their second
flight to the ship. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1985, & the Alaska
Aviation Heritage Museum Hall of Fame in 2003.
DON EMMONS - Came to Juneau in mid-1930's as pilot for Clarence Walter's Alaska School of Aeronautics. Then
flew for Hans Mirow in Nome. Later for Star Air Service in Fairbanks and Point Barrow. Died in pulp mill accident in
Southeastern Alaska in 1959.
ROBERT E. "BOB" ELLIS - Born St. Albans, VT January 20, 1903. At age 16 attended US
Naval Academy where he received navigation & flight training. In 1929 Anscel Eckmann asked
him to plot a course for the Alaska Washington Airways record breaking nonstop flight of a
Lockheed Vega from Seattle to Juneau. Ellis went along to begin his long aviation career in Alaska.
He flew all over Alaska with a variety of airlines. In 1936 he purchased a Waco float plane &
established Ellis Air Transport in Ketchikan, later renamed Ellis Air Lines which merged with
Alaska Coastal Airlines in 1965 to become Alaska Coastal-Ellis Airlines, which became part of
Alaska Airlines in 1968. Was a Senator in the Alaska Territorial Legislature 1955 - 1958. Bob
died in May 9, 1994 at Ketchikan. In 2004 he was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Heritage
Museum Hall of Fame.
JACK ELLIOT - Learned to fly in Oakland, CA before 1930; came to McGrath in 1934 to work for the game
warden, then to Anchorage as a pilot for Star Air Service. Flew Bellancas, Stinsons, Ford Trimotors out of Anchorage.
Left Alaska in 1943 and was chief pilot for Consolidated Vultee Aircraft in San Diego, CA. Last flew in Alaska in 1947
on Kenai Peninsula on a bear hunt.
ARCHIE R. FERGUSON - "Christ, I like to fly," sums up this colorful character of Northern
Aviation. Born January 24, 1895 in Ohio, arrived in Alaska in 1917. Ferguson family hired Chet
Browne from Colorado in the 1920's to teach Archie to fly. Once described as the craziest pilot in
Alaska. He owned a restaurant in Kotzebue and operated his own flying service out of Kotzebue for
many years. Died of natural causes in Mexico in February 1967.
HAROLD GILLAM - Charles Harold Gillam was born 1903 Kankakee, Illinois and raised in
Nebraska. In 1923 came to Cordova & Chitina as a "cat skinner" for the Alaska Road Commission,
then Bennett-Rodebaugh Airplane Transport Co. in Fairbanks. Learned to fly in Fairbanks in
1929 & with only 40 hrs training & no license, flew a Stearman across Alaska in the search for the
Eielson crash & was one of the pilots who spotted the wreckage. Gillam flew a mail route from
Fairbanks to Bethel. In 1931 he left Fairbanks & founded Aircraft Charter Co. in Cordova &
Copper Center. In about 1932 he founded Gillam Airways. He died following a Jan 5, 1943 crash
in a Lockheed Electra 10B near Ketchikan on a flight from Seattle to Anchorage with 5 passengers.
All survived the original crash; one died from injuries, & Harold froze to death trying to walk out
for help. The remaining 4 passengers were rescued by Coast Guard Cutter McLane after 33 days.
Harold is buried in Fairbanks. Harold was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Museum Hall of Fame
ED FAGEROS - Flew briefly for McGee Airways, then for Noel Wien in Fairbanks. Died in aircraft crash in McGrath.
DON GLASS - Born San Ramon, CA, came to Alaska in 1934 with Frank Dorbandt as co-pilot in
first Ford Tri-motor in the Territory. They founded Ptarmigan Airlines which lasted only a short
time. Don flew for McGee, Star and in 1938 went with Woodley Airways. In 1943 died in a crash in
Gastineau Channel on a scheduled flight from Juneau to Anchorage in a Woodley Tri-motor
DON H. GOODMAN - Born April 6, 1909 in Modoc County, CA, learned to fly with Al Horning at Hancock School
of Aviation, Santa Maria, CA; came to Alaska with Horning in 1934. Worked for McGee Airways on mail runs from
Anchorage down the Kuskokwim & Yukon Delta. In 1937 Goodman and Oscar Winchell formed Alaska Interior
Airlines in McGrath & Anchorage which only lasted three months, selling to Star Air Service when Mac McGee
returned to Star management. In 1937 Don enlisted investors & acquired Star Air Service renaming it Star Air
Lines. He was active in Star management in efforts to expand to routes from Alaska to the States and was
prominent in development of Alaska Star Airways during war years. Joined the Royal Air Force Ferry Command,
then the Naval Air Transport. Quit the aviation business to become a contractor after World War II. Retired to
Freemont, CA & celebrated his 100th birthday on April 6, 2009.
WILLIAM R. "BILL" GRAHAM - Born about 1898 in Washington. Learned to fly in the U.S. Air Service at
Arcadia, Florida. Was a bush pilot in Nome in the very early days of aviation. After leaving Alaska was for a period
the personal pilot for movie star Wallace Beery.
CHARLES "SLIM" GROPSIS - Pilot for Yukon Treadwell Mining Company of Juneau in early 1930's. Flew
Bellanca float planes. Slim & his passenger died in October 1936 in the crash of a Bellanca that once belonged to
actor Wallace Beery. They crashed in British Columbia on a flight between Seattle and Juneau.