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Lyle Cronk was born in upstate New York and grew up on a farm. He first came to Alaska in 1962 with the U.S. Air Force when he was eighteen years old. After ten years in the Air Force, Lyle went to work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and in 1973 was assigned to the airport in Northway, Alaska. He was an air traffic controller for thirty-eight years and retired from the FAA in 1998. Since 1978, he also worked for the telephone company as the "telephone guy" in Northway. Lyle settled into the community of Northway, where he married, raised six children, and participates in the subsistence lifestyle.