Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Frank Whaley

Frank Whaley

Frank Whaley was born in 1906 and moved to Alaska from Seattle in the 1930s. He came to Alaska because there was no business for a pilot during the Great Depression, but Alaska was demanding more pilots because of the gold mining and other operations. Frank worked as a pilot for Noel Wien during the Wien Air weekly flights to Nome in 1933. While self-employed as a pilot, he damaged the wing of his plane and had to find another job so this pushed him toward working with the Wiens. The life expectancy for a bush pilot was on average, eight years, but Frank flew as a bush pilot from 1933 to 1949 without incident. He also flew for the Army, and executed a rescue mission of a crashed B-29. For that, he was rewarded with the Distinguished Medal of Honor. After he stopped flying in 1949, at the request of his wife, Neva, he began working for Wien as a photographer and tour director. He is also credited as being the first director of the Alaska Visitors Association along with Chuck West, Bob Rice and his brother, Jack. Frank also was a well-known State senator representing Fairbanks, a gold miner, and a filmmaker. He also helped found the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in 1961. Frank Whaley died in 1997. Biographical information from: Frank Whaley's son, Frank Whaley Jr., and Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association, Freeze Frame, Volume 3, Number 5, 4th Quarter 2001.

Frank Whaley appears in the following new Jukebox projects: