Wager with the Wind: The Don Sheldon Story, by James Greiner, was first published in 1974. One of the pioneers of early Alaskan aviation, Sheldon became the “guardian angel” of climbers on Denali (Mount McKinley). From his base at Talkeetna, Sheldon flew some of the earliest climbers to the high mountain glaciers. He perfected the glacier landing and became the pilot most sought after by serious climbers.
Sheldon, along with other early Alaskan aviators, defined what the Bush Pilot would become. His story is fascinating and full of daring as he accomplished with an airplane, things never done before.
Artic Bush Pilot: From Navy Combat to Flying Alaska’s Northern Wilderness, by James Anderson, published in 2000 is the story of James “Andy” Anderson, and the establishment of regular Bush flying in the Bettles, Alaska region. A former Navy combat pilot, Anderson was one of the first to bring aviation to the Koyukuk River area, serving miners, sportsmen, scientists, sourdoughs, adventurers and the Native population. He flew what ever was needed and in conjunction with Wein Airlines brought scheduled air service to the Artic.
His adventures and the story of the growth of the industry and how people of the region came to rely on the airplane for supplies, medical emergencies and mail brings to life this period of Alaskan history, it’s beauty and dangers, and opens a window on the people of the Koyukuk region in the period following World War II.
Alaska’s Wolf Man: The 1915-55 Wilderness Adventures of Frank Glaser, was published in 1998 earned author Jim Reardon the “Alaska Historical Society’s Historian of the Year Award” for 1999. Described as a latter-day “Far North Mountain Man,” Glaser traveled across wilderness Alaska by foot, wolf-dog team and eventually, by airplane. He was a naturalist at heart, but to survive worked as a market hunter, trapper, roadhouse owner, musher and federal predator agent. He learned many of the secrets of wilderness survival by observing the Alaska wildlife, especially wolves. He prospered in far-off lonely places in the Alaska bush; surviving encounters with grizzlies and Mother Nature in a place were temperatures would often drop to 50 and 60 degrees below zero.
A skilled woodman and a crack shot, he became an Alaskan legend.
Alaska’s Wolf Man brings to life the intense vastness of the country, it’s loneliness and savagery, while telling the story of a man and a time now past.
Flying Alaska Gold: Grizzlies, Gold, Gangsters, was published in 2005 and is the story of modern day gold seekers in the Alaskan backcountry.
David Hoerner tells the story of how he and family members put nearly everything they had into a gold mining operation northwest of Anchorage in the Talkeetna Mountains. Hoerner, who worked as a Montana logger and his family were from the northwestern area of the state and had spend time in Glacier National Park, an experience they felt would help prepare them for Alaska.
The group purchased a Cessna 206 with Hoerner, at the time a relatively new pilot, designated as pilot.
Hoerner tells a fascinating tale of his hair rising and near death flying experiences. The trials and tribulations of gold mining, and the greed associated with it. How the group became connected with the Mafia and of everyday life in back country Alaska. For the author it turned into an accelerated learning curve, as he flew people and supplies over the course of a summer.
Flying the Alaska Wild: The Adventures and Misadventures of an Alaska Bush Pilot, by Mort Mason, was published in 2002. The author has since published a second volume “The Alaska Bush Pilot Chronicles.”
Mason takes the read on a series of adventures through wild weather conditions, over high mountain ranges, along river valley’s and across the Big Empty. He recounts trips typifying the rough-and-tumble life of the Alaskan Bush Pilot in exciting and fascinating fashion. Mason has flow the bush for 30 years and has plenty of stories to tell. At times he’ll leave the reader wondering how he survived some of the scrapes into which he got himself into and why he was in that position in the first place.
Noel Wien: Alaska Pioneer Bush Pilot, by Ira Harkey, was published in 1974 and is the story on one of Alaska’s first aviators. Wein arrived in Fairbanks in 1924 as a green kid with just a few hundred hours in the air. His story chronicles the history of aviation in Alaska and the establishment of commercial airline service. Wien was the first to establish regular airplane service between Fairbanks and Nome, Fairbanks to Seattle and from Anchorage to Fairbanks. He was also the first to fly an airplane beyond the Artic Circle and land and to make a round trip flight between Alaska and Asia.
The book describes the hardships and challenges faced by early Alaskan aviators. Wien’s vision was to bring aviation to Alaska and his story is one of wild experiences and aviation milestones in an unyielding land.
The Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska, by Kim Heacox, was published in 2005. It has been described as “a coming-of-middle-age memoir written in the tradition of Edward Abbey, John McPhee, and Henry David Thoreau.”
Heacox joined the National Park Service as a young man and was posted as a summer ranger at Glacier Bay in southeast Alaska. His story is one of friendship, risk, hope, and growing up in an ever increasingly commercial world. He asks, “What does it mean to fall in love with a place that cannot stay the same? When do you hold on? When do you let go?” His challenges and life at Glacier Bay become a metaphor for the changes in the human condition.
He offers the reader an opportunity to look within, asks “how we might live with greater deliberation, purpose, and thankfulness for the wild places we still have.”
Bear Man of Admiralty Island: A Biography of Allen E. Hasselborg, by John R. Howe, was published in 1996. The author suggests, “The events of Allen Hasselborg’s life could have been imagined by a clever novelist hoping to create just what every reader would want in a story about the north during the first half of the twentieth century.”
Finding his way to southeast Alaska as a young man, Hasselborg found work in gold mines, on fishing boats and doing whatever it took to survive. From Juneau he moves to Admiralty Island builds a cabin and for more than 40 years guides scientists and hunters. His familiarity with the island’s grizzly bears becomes legendary and he beings to refer to those around his Mole Harbor homestead as his bears. It is the account of a “rugged loner whose circle of acquaintances include some of the most prominent people of his day,and of a largely self-taught naturalist who made significant contributions to the scientific knowledge of bears.”
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.