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 John Schmidt (dc8schmidt@twc.com) | Home > 
A Look at Alaskan Airliners 2 / 2018
More than anywhere in the US, the 49th state depended on air transportation. Beginning in the late 20s daring bush pilots operated in demanding conditions to serve the needs of Alaskans. By 1935 Pacific Alaska was formed as a subsidiary of Pan Am, operating Lockheed Electras on a route from Juneau to Fairbanks. Shortly thereafter Alaska Star, soon to become Alaska Airlines was formed, and by 1938 Pan Am began operating to Alaska from Seattle. Pan Am incorporated Pacific Alaska in 1941, operating Lockheed Lodestars and DC-3s. Other airlines grew from bush operators to scheduled airlines in the following decades, and a new bush industry has evolved providing fishing, sightseeing, and other tourism services.
All the great names are gone, and Alaska has grown into a major Transcontinental airline, but aviation is as important as ever in the 49th state.
    Following are the postcards I have of airliners that frequented  the skies of Alaska. Also included are airline issues from many of the modern "bush" airlines supporting the tourism industry, provided by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.
Album by John Schmidt. 1 - 109 of 109 Total. 550 Visits.
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Alaska Star Lodestar #1
Alaska's roots go back to 1934 with the creation of Star Airlines in Anchorage, which later became Alaska Star. With additional mergers and acquisitions, it officially became Alaska in 1944, with the airliners being titled as "Starliners".
   By this time Alaska's routes blanketed the territory, and the first new aircraft, Lockheed Lodestars, had been delivered.


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Alaska  Star Lodestar #2 KCF
A vintage  unidentified publisher card of the Alaska Star Lodestar, provided by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

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Alaska  Star Lodestar #3 KCF
A little better view of the "Starliner Anchorage" on a more recent unidentified publisher card, also shared by Kuo-Chig Fu.

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Alaska  Star Lodestar #4
An outstanding 1985 issue of the Alaska Star Lodestar from IAWP

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Alaska C-46 #2
The end of the war provided opportunities to acquire surplus aircraft, and Alaska added DC-3s, DC-4s, and C-46s, as shown on the above collector card,  to the fleet. Much of their service was in far flung charter operations including the Berlin Air Lift, and operation Magic Carpet,, carrying Jewish Settlers to Israel.

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Alaska DC-6A #1
In 1958 Alaska took delivery of N6118C, a DC-6A built for, but not delivered to Slick. Alaska subsequently designated it and advertised it as the DC-6C, replacing the DC-4 on the mainline route to Seattle.

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Alaska DC-6C
In a later color scheme, N6118C appears as the DC-6C. In 1958 Alaska introduced their "golden Nugget service, and in 1960, Alaska introduced in flight movies on this aircraft.

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Alaska Piper Apache

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Alaska Convair 340
With the introduction of the Convair 880, Alaska introduced the first "Golden Nugget" color scheme, as shown on this 340. The 340s were operating from Anchorage to Kotzebue with intermediate stops.

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Alaska Convair 880 #4
The single Convair 880M was a leap forward for Alaska, and  helped establish Alaska as an equal to its trunk competitors. The card is from Alaska's collector card series.

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Alaska Convair 880 #3
A stunning unidentified card of the 880.

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Alaska Convair 880 #2
The rather common Seattle Airport card featuring Alaska's 880

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Alaska 727-100 #1
In October of 1966 the first 727 was delivered to Alaska, wearing an updated Golden Nugget scheme. It operated for Alaska for 9 years.

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Alaska Convair 990 #2
Alaska added the Convair 990 in May of 1967, an ex Varig aircraft that operated Seattle flights for 2 years. Alaska was one of only 3 airlines that flew both Convair jets.
Card is a WGA issue.


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Alaska Convair 240
The 1968 Merger with Cordova brought the Convair 240 to Alaska, as the mergers added a substantial network of southeast Alaska destinations to Alaska's  minimal small city services. This repainted beauty operated only a little more than a year.

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Alaska DHC-6
Alaska added a new Twin Otter for local services in 1969, but it was sold to Air Wisconsin in less than a year.
Alaska's  ambitions went far beyond the confines of the Northwest, and by 1975 most of the smaller destinations were eliminated. After deregulation Alaska's expansion into the lower 48 was moving rapidly resulting in the major airline serving much of the US today.


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Alaska  Coastal Grumann Goose
Alaska Coastal was formed in 1939 serving southeastern Alaska. The airliner of choice for the many Alaska Communities without airports was the Grumann Goose shown on this Alaska Coastal Issue.

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Alaska  Coastal PBY Catalina
A rather rare Alaska Coastal issue of one of their ex Navy PBY Catalinas in flight. The airline operated 5 Catalinas, even equipped with Stewardesses.

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Alaska  Coastal Turbo Goose
The turbine powered Grumann Goose N95431, was operating for Alaska Coastal by the time of its merger with Alaska. Shortly after its arrival at Alaska it was involved in a crash, but was rebuilt as a standard powered model.
The card is an IAWP issue.


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Alaska  Coastal-Ellis Grumann Goose #1
In 1962, Alaska Coastal merged with Ellis Airlines, adding 10 more Grumann "Geese" to their fleet. This card is a recycle of the first Goose card with clouds removed.

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Cordova DC-3 #1
Cordova Airlines was formed in 1934, initially to provide service for the Kennecott Copper  mines. Growth was slow, but through the 1950s Cordova developed a scheduled route system around the town of Cordova, using DC-3s and Super Widgeon aircraft , while maintaining substantial "bush" services.  The card above is a Cordova issue from the early 1960s.

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Cordova DC-3 #2
By 1966, in addition to DC-3s, as shown on the IAWP issue above, Cordova  introduced Convair 240 services, featuring Champaign lunches between Anchorage and Juneau. Champaign meals were expanded to include dinner and even breakfasts in 1967.  Routes  extended from Anchorage to Dawson as well as Anchorage to Juneau. The airline made an ideal acquisition for a growing Alaska Airlines in 1968.

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Ellis Grumann Goose #1
Bob Ellis formed Ellis Airlines with a 4 seat Waco aircraft in 1936, flying routes to remote southeastern Alaska locations.
By 1946 the airline was operating regular flights from Ketchikan to Juneau by way of Wrangell, and Petersburg.


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Ellis Grumann Goose #2
As surplus Grumann Goose aircraft became available, Ellis grew to provide regular scheduled services to 11 communities.

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Ellis Grumann Goose #3
By the 1950s Ellis Grumann Goose flights operated 5 times a day to Annette airport, which served Ketchikan, connecting to Pan Am and Pacific Northern Flights, and 10 aircraft were operating at the time of the 1962 merger with Alaska Coastal.
Ellis was thoughtful enough to publish these 3 nice cards of the Goose in the late 1950s


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Era Alaska Convair 580

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Everts Air Cargo DC-6A #1KCF
Everts Air's roots go back to 1978, when the airline was formed to provide cargo and passenger service to interior Alaska.
C-46s and DC-6A's were still best suited for most runways, and amazingly still operate scheduled services in Alaska today as Everts Air Cargo.
The cargo division has now expanded into the lower 48 with DC-9 and MD-80 freighters, often seen at my home airport in Louisville.
This great view of the DC-6 at Anchorage is on a JJ issue kindly provided by Kuo-Ching Fu


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Munz Northern Islander
Munz Airways was formed in 1938 by Bill Munz in Nome Alaska. Dick Gallaher, a Northern Consolidated pilot, acquired Munz airways in 1962, and began a program of expansion which ultimately resulted in a fleet of 12  Islanders plus five helicopters serving communities in Western Alaska.
The Munz Northern issue above is the only card I've seen from the airline.


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Munz Northern Islander #2
This photo gives a much better look at the Munz Northern livery.

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Northern Air Cargo DC-6A #1KCF
Northern Air cargo was formed in 1956, with 2 Fairchild C-82s to provide freight service to remote mines and DewLine sites.
In September 1969, the first DC-6, as shown on this rare airline issue, was placed in service. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.


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Northern Air Cargo Fleet
The extraordinary performance of the company in normal and crisis situations resulted in a superb reputation and excellent growth. By the time of this NAC issue, the airline was operating 15 DC-6s on scheduled and charter routes in Alaska.

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Northern Air Cargo 727-100F #2
In May 1991 the first 727 was added to the fleet, and others such as this ex Amerijet aircraft, we're soon acquired.
The year 2006 saw 4 ex Delta 737s join the fleet and currently Northern is operating 737-300 and 400 freighters nationwide.
The card is a Buchair issue from 2004.


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Northern Consolidated Cessna Bushmaster #1
Northern Consolidated was founded by Ray Petersen in 1947, with a unique focus on fishing tourism. The Cessna Float planes as shown on this NCA issue were a familiar site at Katmai National Park.

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Northern Consolidated Cessna Bushmaster #2
A second Cessna T-50 card issued by Northern Consolidated. The trips were advertised in magazines such as Field and Stream and Outdoor Life.
   The airline was not confined to fishing tourism alone, and by 1955 Northern Consolidated DC-3s were operating routes from Anchorage to Dillingham, as well as McGrath, Bethel and Fairbanks


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Northern Consolidated F-27 #1
By 1960, Northern Consolidated was introducing the F-27B, a combi model to mix passengers and freight on the main line routes. By 1967, the F-27s were serving 7 destinations.
The year 1968 brought the merger of Northern Consolidated with Wien Alaska, one which seemed to make a lot of sense.


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Northern Consolidated F-27 #2
A final Northern Consolidated issue, showing 2 F-27s at the Kulik airport serving the "Angler's Paradise".  Apparently buses picked up the fisherman and delivered them to their final destinations.

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Pacific Alaska Lodestar #1 KCF
Pacific Alaska, created by Pan American in 1932, pioneered the air route from Juneau to Fairbanks,  flying L-10 Electras and later, Lodestars. Ultimately, the airline was submerged into the parent company.
The card is a Frontier Productions issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.


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Pacific Alaska F-27
There's not much information available on the 2nd Pacific Alaska. It operated charters from 1972 - 1986 with DC-3s DC-6s, F-27s and an assortment of bush aircraft. This airliner was originally a corporate aircraft, later sold to Canada Department of Transport, before it's arrival at Pacific Alaska.
Card is a Mary Jayne's issue


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Pacific Northern DC-3 #1
Pacific Northern, originally known as Woodley Airways, was launched in 1945, with 2 Boeing 247s. On June 20 of that year, it was awarded the Anchorage to Juneau route with intermediate stops. Four new DC-3s were acquired in 1946, as shown on this excellent PNA issue.

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Pacific Northern DC-3 #2 KCF
This Frontier Productions issue provides a better look at the DC-3. A fifth DC-3 was added plus another for spares in 1948.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.


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Pacific Northern DC-4
In 1950 Pacific Northern was awarded the Anchorage-Seattle route, plus additional authority for Portland and Fairbanks. Ultimately 4 DC-4s are acquired, and a Juneau-Seattle route was awarded. As the trunk routes are established PNA transfers it's smaller destinations to Bristol Bay Airlines.

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Pacific Northern DC-4 #2 KCF
This unidentified publisher card gives a better look at DC-4 N3934C. It was an American DC-4, before sale to Guest in 1948. Pacific Northern took delivery in July 1951, operating for 11 years.

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Pacific Northern Constellation
In March, 1955, 3 ex Delta Contellations are acquired. Ketchikan and Kodiak to Seattle flights are initiated.
Card is a PNA issue


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Pacific Northern Constellation #2KCF
By 1960 six Contellations are in service, and traffic has dramatically increased.
The card shown is a rare PNA issue provided by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.


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Pacific Northern 720 #1
In 1961 two Boeing 720s, as shown on the above PNA issue, are ordered, as the airline concentrates on mainline routes.

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Pacific Northern 720 #2
By 1965 PNA is operating (2) 720s, six Constellations and a DC-3. Unfortunately, in 1965, the CAB awarded Northwest the prime Seattle-Anchorage route in competition with PNA, and Portland authority is withdrawn.
Card is an excellent PNA issue.


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Pacific Northern 720 #4 KCF
A really nice up close and personal look at one of PNA's 720s. Card is an unidentified publisher card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

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Pacific Northern 720 #3
Although 1965 was a great year financially, the landscape had changed, and Pacific Northern agrees to a merger with Western on October 31, 1966.
This very nice Juneau airport issue, shows the 720 when PNA commanded the Northwest.


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Pan Am Lodestar #1
An extraordinary and quite rare Pan Am issue of their new Lockheed Lodestar over an apparent Alaskan landscape. This image was used in Lockheed print advertising promoting the aircraft.

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Pan Am Lodestar #2
Another rare card of the Lodestar in flight over Alaska published by Johnston.
Originally these operations were performed as Pacific Alaska, a subsidiary of Pan Am.


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Pan Am Lodestar #3 KCF
Also a rare card using the same image as the Johnston card only slightly cropped. At the time the Lodestar was the most advanced airliner in Alaskan Skies

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Pan Am DC-3 #1
A vintage C P Johnston issue, showing a Pan Am DC-3 in flight over Juneau.
 Pan Am built the Juneau airport to facilitate land based service at the capital, rather than amphibians.


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Pan Am DC-3s
A Pan Am issue, showing DC-3s at Juneau circa 1950. The aircraft were flying a route from Seattle to Ketchikan, Juneau, Whitehorse, Fairbanks and Nome

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Pan Am DC-3 #6 KCF
This very rare Pan Am issue shows a DC-3 flying over an Alaskan glacier sometime in the late 1940s. This outstanding card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

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Pan Am DC-4 #12 KCF
Another very rare Pan Am Issue, featuring a view of the Juneau airport from a Pan Am DC-4.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.


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Pan Am DC-4 #4
An early Pan Am issued DC-4 portrayed apparently over an Alaskan landscape. This early livery would have been seen on the first DC-4 flights from the mainland to Fairbanks. Through the early 1950s Pan Am flew a DC-4 "red eye" from Seattle non-stop to Fairbanks, continuing to Nome.

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Pan Am Stratocruiser #6
Ultimately the Seattle Ketchikan, Juneau, Whitehorse, Fairbanks route was operated by the Stratocruiser, following DC-6s in the mid 50s. This card makes reference only to that service.

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Pan Am 707-120 at Fairbanks
By the 1960s Seattle to Fairbanks was operated by 707s, as shown on this Fairbanks airport issue. By late 60s all destinations were eliminated except for Fairbanks.

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Reeve Aleutian History
An excellent oversized Reeve Aleutian issue, featuring Bob Reeves, and his aircraft from inception to the 1970s. Reeve graduated from remote bush operations to DC-3s in 1946, adding DC-4s in 1957. Based in Anchorage, the airline ultimately assumed air services through the rugged Aleutian chain, operating until the shutdown in 2000.

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Reeve Aleutian C-46
Two ex Cordova Airways C-46s were added in 1957 to handle Dew Line contracts. The card is an IAWP issue, and the only view I have found of Reeves' C-46.

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Reeve Aleutian DC-6B
DC-6Bs were added in 1962, replacing the DC-4s on the long flights to Attu and Shemya. Card is an IAWP issue.

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Reeve Aleutian Electra #1
By 1968, Electras had taken over most of Reeve's services, and continued in operation for over 30 years. Reeve was also able to get the Electra certified for gravel runways. The card is a Mary Jayne's Issue

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Reeve Aleutian Electra #2
The first of Reeve's Christmas cards (of which I'm aware) featured the Electra

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Reeve Aleutian YS-11 #1
Reeve acquired 2 new YS-11s in 1972, to replace the aged DC-3s, which had also seen nearly 30 years of service. The aircraft shown above, however, was acquired from the Gabon Air Force in 1980. Unfortunately written off at Cold Bay in 1982.
  The card is an Udo Schaefer "Airborne Postcard #5"


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Reeve Aleutian YS-11 #2
A later Reeve Christmas card of the YS-11. early 90s?

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Reeve Aleutian 727-100 #1
Reeve acquired 2 727-100s from Wien Air Alaska in 1984 operating charters to Alaskan destinations as well as Sun destinations.
  This card is also an Udo Schaefer publication. #3


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Reeve Aleutian 727-100 #2
My favorite Reeve card is the 1998 Christmas card featuring the 727

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Reeve Aleutian
This beautiful image is not a card but a splendid photo that embodies the thrill of Alaskan aviation, and the legacy of Bob Reeve. Reeve shut down on December 5, 2000

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Trans Northern Super DC-3 #1
An excellent postcard of one of Trans Northern's Super DC-3s, looking more like 1958 than 2018. Trans Northern operates both passenger and freight charters throughout Alaska, and also operates some Metros and Beech 99s.

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Wien Alaska DC-3
Wien Alaska, formed by three brothers, was officially launched in 1927, making it the oldest of the Alaskan Airlines. Like most Alaskan airlines, operations were undertaken by an assortment of bush aircraft for decades. The first metal monoplane was a Boeing 247, but by 1946 the first DC-3s arrived.. Early DC-3s were operating a circuit from Fairbanks to Ft. Yukon, to Circle Springs and return.
Card is an IAWP Historical, #412


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Wien Alaska F-27 #1
In June 1959, Wien took a big step forward with the introduction of F-27B airliners. The F-27s operated from Fairbanks to Kotzebue, Nome ,Pt. Barrow and Ft. Yukon.
Card is a Wien Issue


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Wien Alaska Fleet
This rare oversized card features several Pilatus aircraft on the ramp, as well as the F-27 above. The date of this card would have been approximately 1965, and is the first item referring to the airline as Wien Air Alaska.

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Wien Alaska Pilatus Porter #1 KCF
The first Pilatus Porter aircraft arrived at Wien in 1961, with additional aircraft delivered through 1965.
A Pilatus issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu


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Wien Air F-27 #2
N 4903 was originally a Northern Consolidated airliner, delivered in Oct. 1958. By 1974, the Northern Consolidated merger was well into the past, and the airline reassumed the name Wien Air Alaska. The F-27 shown is an IAWP issue #404.

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Wien Air 737-200 #1
By 1968 the 737-210C arrived adapted for use on a gravel runway, and revolutionizing travel on Wien Routes. The 737s operated originally from Fairbanks to Anchorage, King Salmon, Galena and Nome

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Wien Air 737-200 #2
Another excellent Wien Issue of the new 737. The year 1968 was the year of the merger with Northern Consolidated, and both airlines had ordered the 200C aircraft.

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Wien Air 737-200 #5
Another Wien issue, an image that also appeared on advertising and timetables.

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Wien Consolidated 737-200 #1
As the Northern Consolidated merger provided new destinations, the 737 fleet grew, but this postcard was recycled from the original Wien issue.

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Wien Consolidated 737-200 #2 KCF
A seldom seen, and exotic Wien Consolidated issue features a 737 against the midnight sun.
Card provided by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.


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Wien Consolidated Grumann Mallard
Amphibian operations continued after the merger with Northern Consolidated, and this Grumann Mallard displays the new (and temporary) colors.
Card is an IAWP issue #520


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Wien Air 737-200 #3
A later 737-210C, delivered in 1974 is featured on this Wien Air Issue.

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Wien Air 737-200 #4
By 1979, Wien Air 737s served 20 destinations in Alaska, and the airline was preparing for direct flights to the lower 48. Household finance had acquired controlling interest in the airline in 1979 with the promise of capital to fund expansion. However Household sold the airline to Jim Flood, the president at the time, who simply liquidated the airline for cash in 1984. Perhaps the greatest of the Alaskan pioneers was summarily trashed.
This interesting view is an IAWP issue.


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Bald Mountain DHC-3 #4 KCF

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Bald Mountain DHC-3 #1 KCF

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Bald Mountain DHC-3 #2 KCF

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Bald Mountain DHC-3 #3 KCF

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Ft. Yukon Air Service Grand Commander KCF

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K2 Aviation Cessna 185 #1 KCF

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K2 Aviation Cessna 185 #2 KCF

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Ketchikan Cessna 185 #1 KCF

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Ketchikan DHC-2 #1KCF

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Ketchum Cessna 206 #1 KCF

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Ketchum Air DHC-2 #1 KCF

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Ketchum Air DHC-2 #2 KCF

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Rust's Cessna 206 #1a KCF

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Rust's DHC-2 #1 KCF

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Rust's DHC-2 #2KCF

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Rust's DHC-3 #1 KCF

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Rust's DHC-3 #2 KCF

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Sky Trekking Cessna 172 #1 KCF

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Temsco DHC-2  #1 KCF

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Temsco DHC-3 #1 KCF

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Tyee DHC-2 #1 KCF

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Westflight DHC-2 #1 KCF

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Westflight DHC-6 #1 KCF

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Westflight Grumann Goose #1

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Westflight Grumann Goose #2 KCF

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Wrangell Mountain Cessna 185 #1 KCF

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Wrangell Mountain Piper  18 #1 KCF

 
   
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