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Noel Wien

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Noel Wien (1899–1977) was a pioneer aviator in the U.S. state of Alaska and founder of Wien Air Alaska, Alaska's first airline. Born in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin, Wien learned to fly from Ray Miller in 1921 and became a barnstormer in Clarence W. Hinck's Federated Fliers Flying Circus. Wien saw an opportunity to fly in Alaska and migrated there with his brothers. In 1924, with his pilot license No. 39 signed by Federation Aeronautique Internationale Official Orville Wright in hand, Wien flew his Misso Standard biplane to Alaska and began servicing the gold-rich territory.[1]

A legend among legendary pilots, when Wien first arrived in Alaska he had 538 hours of barnstorming and aerial circus stunt flying under his belt. He went on to build up a long list of firsts: he was first to fly from Fairbanks to Seattle, Fairbanks to Nome, and beyond the Arctic Circle, across the Bering Strait and was first to make a round-trip flight between Alaska and Asia.

Wien Alaska Airways prospered through the 1930s and the years of World War II. After the war, the company was ideally positioned to capitalize on Alaska’s new and dramatic growth. Wien Air Alaska emerged as the biggest airline inside what, in 1959, became the nation’s biggest state. Wien Air Alaska, the nation’s second oldest airline, ceased operations in 1985.

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