An evening honoring 13 Alaskan aviators sponsored by the Alaska Air Carriers Association and the Medallion Foundation in support of the Alaska Aviation Museum was enjoyed by over 200 people in October.
Called the Legends of Alaska Aviation 2012 a joint project by AACA and the Alaska Aviation Museum to record the history and a lifetime of aviation activities of those honored was held on Oct. 12 in Anchorage.
The dinner included Medallion Foundation’s 2012 safety awards attended by Sen. Mark Begich, awards presented by Gov. Sean Parnell and FAA Alaska Regional Administrator Bob Lewis who honored Medallion Star and Shield carriers.
“This is a really important project for the museum to record the aviation history by those who lived it, and verified by their peers,” said Shari Hart, the director of the Alaska Aviation Museum. “We wanted to honor those who were still living to get their story directly from them.”
Nominated by their peers the 2012 Alaska Aviation Legends honored are: Glen Alsworth, Port Alsworth, Rex Bishopp, Anchorage, William D. English, Anchorage, Harold Esmailka, Ruby, Cliff Everts, Fairbanks, John Hajdukovich, Fairbanks, Oren Hudson, Anchorage, Holger “Jorgy” Jorgensen, Fairbanks, Rod Judy, Petersburg, Orin Seybert, Anchorage, William Stedman, Petersburg, Richard Wien, Fairbanks, Al Wright, Fairbanks. Even though Marge Baker from Kotzebue died before being honored, she was nominated in late 2011, and was also honored.
The idea grew out of determination to document those responsible for aviation break-through in careers from the late 1930s up to 2000.
“The idea to record this type of history has long been a goal by the museum, but has not been possible in part due to financial restraints and priorities, said Hart.
Joy Journeay, Hart and Rob Stapleton met last fall and agreed that this was a much needed project and long overdue. An immediate Oktoberfest fundraiser was held to raise funds for the museum and the Legends project, where the project was announced by Journeay and support financially by the Alaska Air Carrier Association.
The job of interviewing the Legends was a yearlong effort. Gathering information about the pilots came from FAA biographies, Jane Dale, Joy Journeay, and Rob Stapleton.
The intent of the project is many- fold.
A special banquet dinner honoring the Legends with PowerPoint productions, a plaque for each pilot with all the material gathered, photos and other memorabilia submitted to produce a book for each of the Alaska Aviation Legends, with all of the material submitted to the museum for future use.
The evening started out with harp music performed by Paris Morthorpe during an opening reception. A speech by Sen. Begich preceded the Medallion Foundation’s safety awards hosted by Christine Klein, a Medallion Foundation Board member and its treasurer.
Directly after the awards, Journeay introduced each Legend with images of the pilots projected on two screens in the Downtown Marriott banquet room. At the end of the individual presentations the Legends were photographed as a group photo with a family member, significant other, or a spouse on stage.
After the photo session a group conversation about each pilot’s part in the history of Alaska aviation by each pilot honored was enjoyed by all. While the evening was long the highlights were stories by Harold Esmailka, Al Wright, Jorgy Jorgensen, Bill English, Richard Wien, Orin Seybert and Oren Hudson who told stories on each other.
The Legends dinner has been promoted by Gov. Parnell with videos on Vimeo by the Medallion Foundation, and the Aviation Museum online.
According to Journeay who has received hundreds of nomination for an additional event in 2013 a similar event will take place next year.
As part of the project’s guidelines each Legend was nominated by a peer, next year’s Legends will likewise be nominations from this year’s honored Legends.