Aviation today is being led by the United States of America, since the Wright brothers designed and flew the very first motor-operated airplane in the world. However, there are some names, apart from the Wright brothers, which are considered to be pioneers of aviation too. One of these names is Noel Wien, who founded Wien Alaska Airways.
Noel Wien was born in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin, however, his family moved to a homestead in 1905. Today, this place is called Cook, Minnesota.
In May 1921, Wien learned to fly a JN-4 in eight hours and was taught by Major Ray S Miller, who was commander of the 109th Minnesota Air Squadron and the manager of the Curtiss Northwest Airplane Company’s flying academy. Not able to pay the bond that was required to go solo, Wien took on a job with EW Morrill on 15 June 1921. Wien’s job entailed flying and maintaining Morrill’s Standard J-1 while barnstorming.
After a couple more flying jobs, on 2 September 1922, Wien had sufficient capital to make a deposit on a Thomas-Morse S-4 plane, which he owned for just two weeks. However he was not able to make the final payment. After this, Wien started working for Clarence W Hinck’s Federated Flyers Flying Circus. This job paid $300 a month before Hinck’s sold out his operation in the January of 1924. After this, Wien was hired by Jimmy Rodebaugh, in May 1924 to fly two Standards for his Alaska Aerial Transportation Company.
Wien was clearly plagued by a little bit of bad luck and it was probably good he wasn’t a gambling man. If he was, he’d have needed to find the best golf betting odds to ensure that he had some financial stability for the years ahead.
First Commercial Flight From Fairbanks To Nome
Wien bought a Fokker F. III airplane in 1925 and the first commercial flight was made from Fairbanks to Nome. In 1926 Wien earned a piloting licence from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. In 1927 Wien began regular commercial flights from Fairbanks to Nome. During the winter, Wien and his brother made special air mail flights thanks to the skis they made for their plane.
In 1928, Wien incorporated Wien Alaska Airways. He appointed himself as the president and his brother as vice-president. In addition, they built an aircraft hangar for Wien Alaska Airways. As a reputable aviation company, Wien Alaska Airways made the very first flight across the Bering Strait, which would also be the first non-stop flight from America to Asia.
Wien moved the company headquarters to Fairbanks after he married Ada Bering Arthurs in 1929. A little while later, Wien Alaska Airways was sold to Avco. After a merger between Anchorage Air Transport and Bennet-Rodebaugh, that resulted in the creation of Alaskan Airways, Wien made plans to move to the south, owing 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 was able to bury his brother.
In 1935, another tragedy happened when Wien contracted polio. 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.