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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. 18350 Visits.
Start Slideshow 
Enlarge photo 1
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.

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

Enlarge photo 3
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.

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

Enlarge photo 5
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.

Enlarge photo 6
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.

Enlarge photo 7
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.

Enlarge photo 8
Alaska Piper Apache

Enlarge photo 9
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.

Enlarge photo 10
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.

Enlarge photo 11
Alaska Convair 880 #3
A stunning unidentified card of the 880.

Enlarge photo 12
Alaska Convair 880 #2
The rather common Seattle Airport card featuring Alaska's 880

Enlarge photo 13
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.

Enlarge photo 14
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.

Enlarge photo 15
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.

Enlarge photo 16
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.

Enlarge photo 17
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.

Enlarge photo 18
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.

Enlarge photo 19
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.

Enlarge photo 20
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.

Enlarge photo 21
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.

Enlarge photo 22
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.

Enlarge photo 23
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.

Enlarge photo 24
Ellis Grumann Goose #2
As surplus Grumann Goose aircraft became available, Ellis grew to provide regular scheduled services to 11 communities.

Enlarge photo 25
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

Enlarge photo 26
Era Alaska Convair 580

Enlarge photo 27
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

Enlarge photo 28
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.

Enlarge photo 29
Munz Northern Islander #2
This photo gives a much better look at the Munz Northern livery.

Enlarge photo 30
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.

Enlarge photo 31
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.

Enlarge photo 32
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.

Enlarge photo 33
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.

Enlarge photo 34
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

Enlarge photo 35
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.

Enlarge photo 36
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.

Enlarge photo 37
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.

Enlarge photo 38
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

Enlarge photo 39
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.

Enlarge photo 40
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.

Enlarge photo 41
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.

Enlarge photo 42
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.

Enlarge photo 43
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

Enlarge photo 44
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.

Enlarge photo 45
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.

Enlarge photo 46
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.

Enlarge photo 47
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.

Enlarge photo 48
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.

Enlarge photo 49
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.

Enlarge photo 50
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.

Enlarge photo 51
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

Enlarge photo 52
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.

Enlarge photo 53
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

Enlarge photo 54
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.

Enlarge photo 55
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.

Enlarge photo 56
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.

Enlarge photo 57
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.

Enlarge photo 58
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.

Enlarge photo 59
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.

Enlarge photo 60
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.

Enlarge photo 61
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.

Enlarge photo 62
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

Enlarge photo 63
Reeve Aleutian Electra #2
The first of Reeve's Christmas cards (of which I'm aware) featured the Electra

Enlarge photo 64
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"

Enlarge photo 65
Reeve Aleutian YS-11 #2
A later Reeve Christmas card of the YS-11. early 90s?

Enlarge photo 66
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

Enlarge photo 67
Reeve Aleutian 727-100 #2
My favorite Reeve card is the 1998 Christmas card featuring the 727

Enlarge photo 68
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

Enlarge photo 69
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.

Enlarge photo 70
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

Enlarge photo 71
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

Enlarge photo 72
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.

Enlarge photo 73
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

Enlarge photo 74
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.

Enlarge photo 75
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

Enlarge photo 76
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.

Enlarge photo 77
Wien Air 737-200 #5
Another Wien issue, an image that also appeared on advertising and timetables.

Enlarge photo 78
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.

Enlarge photo 79
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.

Enlarge photo 80
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

Enlarge photo 81
Wien Air 737-200 #3
A later 737-210C, delivered in 1974 is featured on this Wien Air Issue.

Enlarge photo 82
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.

Enlarge photo 83
Bald Mountain DHC-3 #4 KCF

Enlarge photo 84
Bald Mountain DHC-3 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 85
Bald Mountain DHC-3 #2 KCF

Enlarge photo 86
Bald Mountain DHC-3 #3 KCF

Enlarge photo 87
Ft. Yukon Air Service Grand Commander KCF

Enlarge photo 88
K2 Aviation Cessna 185 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 89
K2 Aviation Cessna 185 #2 KCF

Enlarge photo 90
Ketchikan Cessna 185 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 91
Ketchikan DHC-2 #1KCF

Enlarge photo 92
Ketchum Cessna 206 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 93
Ketchum Air DHC-2 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 94
Ketchum Air DHC-2 #2 KCF

Enlarge photo 95
Rust's Cessna 206 #1a KCF

Enlarge photo 96
Rust's DHC-2 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 97
Rust's DHC-2 #2KCF

Enlarge photo 98
Rust's DHC-3 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 99
Rust's DHC-3 #2 KCF

Enlarge photo 100
Sky Trekking Cessna 172 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 101
Temsco DHC-2  #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 102
Temsco DHC-3 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 103
Tyee DHC-2 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 104
Westflight DHC-2 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 105
Westflight DHC-6 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 106
Westflight Grumann Goose #1

Enlarge photo 107
Westflight Grumann Goose #2 KCF

Enlarge photo 108
Wrangell Mountain Cessna 185 #1 KCF

Enlarge photo 109
Wrangell Mountain Piper  18 #1 KCF

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