By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
The first airplane flight in Alaska took place 100 years ago, 10 years after the Wright brothers' first flight, but once the airplane arrived, it played a major role in the history of the state. Today, Alaskans fly 30 times as much as other U.S. citizens, and aviation is crucial to the local economy. To celebrate the centenary, the Anchorage Museum has assembled an exhibit, "Arctic Flight," that examines how aviation changed the way of life in Alaska. A restored 1928 Stearman C2B biplane, borrowed from the Alaska Aviation Museum, anchors the exhibit, which also features artifacts on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.
Artifacts on display include wreckage from the Will Rogers/Wiley Post crash of 1935 and a military-issued electric flight jacket from World War II. Film footage features a 1927 clip of the first airplane to fly over the North Pole and newsreels of the World War II campaign in the Aleutian Islands. Several historical lectures and a showing of the 1927 silent film, Wings, are scheduled. The exhibit is on display until August 11. For more details about the exhibit and how it illuminates Alaska's aviation history, listen to Mary Grady's podcast interview with Julie Decker, chief curator of the museum.