Restoring Aircraft That Impacted Alaska

Thousands of hours and dozens of dedicated volunteers.


by Mike Ford

Preserving Alaska's aviation heritage is the mission of the Alaska Aviation Museum. Part of that vision is accomplished by restoring aircraft that played a big part in Alaska's history.

Since the museum opened their doors on lake hood they have restored eight different aircraft and their current project is the "Pilgrim"

Designed as a workhorse for American Airlines in the 1930's the Pilgrims primary use was for air express freight trips and as a mail carrier.

Nine of the sixteen Pilgrims built made their way north to Alaska in the mid thirties. According to Museum board member Chuck Miller over the next fifty years the Pilgrims served in all parts of the state. Taking on any job that was asked."It could haul a huge payload and a great airplane 600 horsepower and a 75 foot wing span"

Hauling everything from fish,construction equipment, building supplies and livestock the pilgrim even played a part in the construction of the Al-Can highway during World War Two.

The pilgrim being restored was still hauling fish from Bristol Bay up until 1985.

Purchased from the Ball Brothers, museum volunteers have wracked up more than 10 thousand hours restoring this Alaskan workhorse and if you have an inclination and the aptitude they would welcome you with open arms. "So if anybody in the community is interested in helping we have places for you" Miller Said.

You can volunteer to become part of the restoration team by calling the Alaska Aviation Museum at 248-5325.