WHO IS NOEL WIEN?

Aviation today is lead by the United States of America, since the Wright brothers invented and flew the first motor-operated airplane in the world. However, there are some, besides the Wright brothers, that are considered pioneers of aviation too. One of these names is Noel Wien, who has founded Wien Alaska Airways.

Wien’s Long-lasting Aviation Journey

Noel Wien was a natural pilot who was born to fly planes. He learned to fly a Curtis JN-4 Jenny in just eight hours. After his first flight experience, Wien flew some other airplanes, including a Standard J-1. Wanting to have an aircraft of his own, Wien put a down payment on a Thomas-Morse S-4. However, he could not afford to continue this payment, which meant he only had the S-4 for two weeks. In 1924, he was hired by the Alaska Aerial Transportation Company. In just four hours, Wien and Bill Yunker completed a route that took two days by train. Wien would continue to be a pioneer, as in October of 1924, he made the first flight over the Arctic Circle.

First Commercial Flight from Fairbanks to Nome 

Wien purchased a Fokker F. III in 1925 and made the first commercial flight from Fairbanks to Nome with his brother Ralph Wien. In 1926 Wien was issued a piloting license by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. In 1927 Wien started regular commercial flights between Fairbanks and Nome. During winters, Wien with his brother managed special air mail flights thanks to the skis they made for their plane from wood.

In 1928, Wien officially incorporated Wien Alaska Airways, appointing himself as the president and his brother Ralph as vice-president. They also built an aircraft hangar for Wien Alaska Airways. As an established aviation company, Wien Alaska Airways made the first flight across the Bering Strait, which would also be the first nonstop flight from America to Asia.

Noel Wien
source: hartzellpropeller

Wien moved the company headquarters to Fairbanks after marrying Ada Bering Arthurs in 1929. A short time later, Wien Alaska Airways was sold to Avco. After a merger between Anchorage Air Transport and Bennet-Rodebaugh, which resulted in the creation of Alaskan Airways, Wien made plans to move to the south, due to his son’s birth in 1930. This plan, however, would be delayed after the devastating news that Ralph had crashed and died. Wien delayed his plans so he could bury his brother.

Tragic news or his son’s birth did not mean Wien’s aviation career would come to an end though. In 1932, Wien restarted Wien Alaska Airways. During his time in newly restarted Wien Alaska Airways, Wien pioneered an inland route instead of a coastal route that all other flyers used.

In 1935 another tragedy happened when Wien contracted polio. However, Wien managed to survive polio with only a limp and continued flying. Even after he received a piece of metal in his eye, and the surgeons botched the operation causing him to lose one eye and therefore his depth perception, Wien continued flying. Later when his eye was removed Wien would not give up flying as he flew airplanes until his last forced landing in 1956. Noel Wien died on July 19, 1977, far from Alaska where he had established his career, in Bellevue, Washington.

Noel Wien
source: stringfixer

References

< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noel_Wien >

< https://www.alaska.edu/uapress/browse/detail/noel-wien.php >

< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wien_Air_Alaska >

< https://www.sps-aviation.com/story/?id=1274 >

< https://disciplesofflight.com/noel-wien/ >