Hundreds of people showed up to a Bethel event celebrating 100 years of flying in Alaska. The Alaska Air Show Association’s Centennial Celebration happened May 26 at the Yuut Yaqungviat Flight School.
People watched as three vintage planes landed and taxied nearby. They included two shiny, silver T-6′s, which were built in 1943 for World War II. Volunteer pilots showed a constant stream of people the inside of the airplanes which featured a rifle out of the back window.
Another antique plane was the long and lean “Grasshopper” or the Stinson. It was built in 1945 and was used for liaison and air ambulance duties. Its maximum speed is 115 miles per hour.
Later that afternoon at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center, pilots and friends gathered to tell stories of flying in the Bush. At the museum, an exhibit opened called, “Bush Pilots on the Y-K Delta”. It will remain on display until July 31. The museum is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Two planes did not make it to the Bethel show because of mechanical problems. They were the Japanese Zero and an American Pilgrim. There is a chance that they might fly into Bethel June 7, say organizers. The vintage planes are then scheduled to fly on to Aniak and then to Mcgrath.
Jane Dale coordinated the event for the Alaska Air Show Association. Eva Malvich, Director of the Yupiit Piciryarait Museum, also helped organize locally. Volunteer pilots included John Hartke, Chuck Miller, Jeff Sever and Ed Kornfield.