(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) will celebrate the history and development of aviation in Alaska by observing National Aviation Day on August 19.
On July 3, 1913, Aviators James and Lilly Martin demonstrated the first aircraft flight in Alaska when they introduced the “Martin Tractor Aeroplane” in Fairbanks. The biplane was shipped from Seattle to Skagway by steamship and then to Whitehorse on the White Pass Railroad. From there, it went down the Yukon River, then up the Tanana River to Chena and on to Fairbanks via the Chena Slough. Hundreds of onlookers gathered at a Fairbanks ball park to watch Martin fly over Fairbanks at an altitude of 200 feet and speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. While not a financial success, the event increased public awareness of aviation in Alaska.
“The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities proudly recognizes this historic day while emphasizing the importance of aviation in Alaska,” said ADOT&PF Deputy Commissioner John Binder. “The aviation heritage of Alaska is rich and exciting and today still provides a vital link to 82 percent of the communities in our state.”
The ADOT&PF Division of Statewide Aviation has released two videos illustrating the vital lifeline aviation provides for communities statewide and demonstrating some of the unique project and fiscal challenges faced while developing aviation infrastructure in Alaska. Both videos can be viewed by accessing the following links: Aviation – Alaska’s Lifeline and Aviation Lifeline – Counting the Costs.
Organizations promoting aviation history year-round include the Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage and the Pioneer Air Museum in Fairbanks.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 237 airports, 9 ferries serving 35 communities along 3,500 marine miles, over 5,600 miles of highway and 839 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”
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