|Roy Dickson 1930s Alaska Bush Pilot
|FIRST TIME PUBLISHED
|BIOGRAPHIES (M - M) of 1920s-1930s Era ALASKA BUSH PILOTS
GORDON MACKENZIE - Born August 5, 1894. World War I RAF pilot. Barnstormed Seattle area early 1920's.
Pilot for Alaska Washington Airways when it was started. Came to Anchorage in Mid-1930's. Was a partner with Al
Jones & John Amundsen in 1937 opening Anchorage Airways flying a Fairchild 17 & a Fairchild 42. The venture only
lasted one year. Flew for McGee Airways, Star Air Service, Woodley Airways, Mirow and Alaska Airlines. Flew actively
out of Anchorage until late 1950's. Joined FAA in 1958. Worked until his death in 1963, in Anchorage, of natural causes.
OWEN E. MEALS - Born Nov 19, 1891 in Nebraska. Came to Alaska with his family in 1903. Went to Denver in
1927 where he learned to fly & bought his first plane an open-cockpit Eaglerock the "Spirit of Valdez." Made first
flights to Copper River Valley and Fairbanks in 1928. He wrecked the plane, and when Bob Reeve arrived in Valdez looking for a
job, Meals hired him to repair the plane. Reeve leased the plane & started a charter business which was the beginning of what would
ultimately become Reeve Aleutian Airways. As a Valdez businessman, Meals was prominent both in flying and promoting
aviation in that area. Died in Valdez in December 1974.
RUSSEL HYDE "RUSS" MERRILL - Born Des Moines, IA 1894; grew up in Des
Moines. In 1915 enlisted in US Navy Reserve & from 1917-1921 was in the Naval
Flying Corps. He received a B.S. Degree in Chemistry from Cornell Univ in 1919. He
was again in the Naval Flying Corps from 1922 to 1925. In 1925 Merrill & Roy J.
Davis flew Davis's Curtiss Flying Boat on the first flight across the Gulf of Alaska &
became the first airplane ever to arrive in Anchorage. Merrill lost the plane in a
crash on Chugach Island on a charter flight, and Merrill & Davis returned to
Portland. When Anchorage investors formed Anchorage Air Transport in 1927 Russ
was hired as chief pilot. This was the first airline operation in Anchorage. On one of
his pioneering flights in Alaska he discovered what is now known as Merrill Pass.
Russ left Anchorage alone on September 16, 1929 in a Whirlwind Travel Air, bound
for Akiak village and was never heard from again. In October 1929 a piece of fabric
from the plane was found on Cook Inlet near Tyonek. Merrill Pass and Anchorage's
Merrill Field were named after him. He was inducted into the Alaska Aviation
Museum Hall of Fame in 2007.
STEVEN E. "STEVE" MILLS - Born in Dayton, WY in 1896. Moved to Seattle after serving in
WW I. Learned to fly in Seattle & became Chief Instructor at Washington Aircraft at Boeing Field.
Came to Anchorage in 1932 partnering with Charley Ruttan & Jack Waterworht to found Star Air
Service to train student pilots. He continued as a pilot for Star and in August 1936 was chief pilot.
He and five passengers were killed in crash above Upper Russian Lake on a charter flight to the
Russian River on the Kenai Peninsula.
HANS MIROW - Born in Germany, learned to fly at Tex Rankins Flying School in Portland, OR in
1929. Flew for National Air Transport in early 1930's. Established Mirow Air Service out of Nome in
mid-1930's. First to schedule flights between Anchorage and Nome. Hans & his mechanic Pete
Bystedt died in 1939 in crash of Stinson Gullwing between Unalakleet and Kaltag, while searching
for Fred Chambers, one of his pilots who was forced down between Nome & Fairbanks with
passengers. The Chambers plane was later found & rescued. Mirow Air Service became part of
Alaska Star Airlines in 1942, which later became part of Alaska Airlines.
FREDDIE MOLLER - Came to Alaska in 1901 prospecting for gold. Learned to fly to facilitate prospecting in far
North remote locations. Became known as "The Flying Prospector." Survived many airplane crashes. Eventually
went to work for Pan American as a flight mechanic and became a legend. Died along with pilot & four passengers in
crash of a Pan American Pilgram on takeoff ten miles east of Nome in April 1944.
AL MONSEN - Alf Nikolai "Al" Monsen born Norway, came to the U.S. in 1906. Worked for the
Alaska Railroad. Learned to fly in the 1920s. Flew for Pacific International Airways, Pacific Alaska
Airways & Pan American Airways where he flew the Seattle-Fairbanks-Juneau route. On June 2,
1931 Al was Harry Blunt's co-pilot on the first flight down the Alaska Peninsula past Kodiak Island
when they flew Father Hubbard in a float plane to Chignik. Died in a crash on Annette Island near
Ketchikan in 1947 on his last flight before retirement. Was known to his friends as "Big Money
Monsen", & famous for his expression, "every minute counts."
JOHN WESLEY "JOHNNY" MOORE - Born September 18, 1907 in Eureka, CA. Came to Alaska
in 1932. Flew for Gillam in the Copper River Country, was one of McGee's first pilots, then with Star
Air Service. Managed and flew for Mirow Air Service out of Nome after Hans Mirow was killed in
1939 until it was sold to Alaska Star Airlines in 1942. Left Alaska in 1945 to fly for the Air Transport
Command. Returned to Alaska in 1959 & became an electrician for Chugach Electric Association. He
retired to Florence, OR in 1978, & died in Seattle May 4, 1988.
LEO MOORE - Flew out of Anchorage to the Interior and Lower Kuskokwim. Flew first cow into McGrath. Trip
was successful, but the bull had not done his proper job, so there never was any milk for Dave Clough's baby
granddaughter. After Alaska lived in Carmichael, CA.
HERBERT A. "HERB" MUNTER - Born June 13, 1894. Taught himself to fly in Seattle & became Boeing's first
test pilot. In 1935 Herb formed Air Craft Charter Service out of Ketchikan which he sold in 1941 to become a WW II
Navy pilot. After the war partnered with Nick Bez to form West Coast Air Lines & became executive VP. The airline
became a part of Air West. Died in Concord, CA May 24, 1970 after a long illness.
EUGENE A. "GENE" MEYRING - Born September 6, 1904 in Colorado. Flew for Alaska Washington Airways,
Alaska Southern Airways & Pacific Alaska Airways in Southeast Alaska in 1930s. Later joined Pan American
Airways. Retired to San Francisco where he died May 7, 1975.
LINIOUS "MAC" McGEE - Born 1897 in Francesville, IN. Worked in his grandfather's bank. In
1931 with no money but anxious for adventure, stowed away on the SS Aleutian from Seattle to
Seward, Alaska. Worked for a time for A. A. Shonebeck who was the Standard Oil dealer in
Anchorage. He got into fur trading, then bought a Stinson and started charter flying which
expanded into McGee Airways. In 1936 McGee sold the airline with his fleet of seven black &
silver Stinsons to Star Air Service and Mac managed the company for a time, then went back to
mining. Mac died in Reno, NV in 1988.