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Wien Air Alaska route structure


Mission, TX
Needless to say, I have such a wonderful memory of working for such a great family, Wien, over the years in my aviation career. I was so very lucky really. Actually, I was working for a company at the Point Barrow Air Force Station in AK and asked my boss if I could have some time off to fly to Fairbanks to apply for a new job. Sure he said and if I didn't make it, I would still have my old job. What a guy. He knew how much I enjoyed aviation so I jumped on a Wien flight for an interview with a member of the Wien family. At that time, my wife was working for Wien and had been for several years. Once I got to Fairbanks, I went through a short interview and he than asked if I would like to look over the hanger and offices. Sure.....what else could I say? We walked around and he introduced me to lots of people but still had not said if I was hired. I am in a pins and needles of course since I really wanted the job. After being introduced to the girls in accounting, meeting lots of mechanics and those in the supply room, I finally got up enough nerve to ask him if he thought I would fit in with the Wien operation. He kind of turned toward me with a smile said something like "oh, didn't I tell you that you were hired a couple of hours ago?". That person is very high up in aviation in Alaska now.

Here is a link to the Wien route structure at one time. Lets just look at just the Alaska segments. Each and every destination shown was operated as a hub just as the "big guys" do it today only we started that type of operation back in the 50s or before. Out of each hub, smaller aircraft such as C-180s, C-185s, Beavers, Twin Otters, Sky Vans, modified T-50 Cessnas, Norseman, Stinson, and so many other aircraft types.

http://www.airchive.com/Timetables and Maps/Wien Compressed/Wien map8312.jpg

In the Alaska segments at one time, Wien served 172 towns, granted some with only 5 (such as Dahl Creek) or less people but still, they had to have service at times and many were on demand stops on scheduled flights such as Coleville. Even for my home at Dahl Creek, the Post Office at Kotzebue actually set up a special dispatch mail bag just for my family. When that went on the books as a postal stop, the map makers picked up on it and all of a sudden, Dahl Creek showed up on all the maps in the world and is still there today. There is a reader here from an area out of Big Lake that still flies commercial flights into Dahl Creek. I guess you might say I put a town on the map durring my life and it hasn't become an abandoned area yet. Even the log house I built there is still standing and being used.

The Wien family employed such a great group of local bush employees that each and every hub was self administered. The local station manager took it upon him/her self to make sure the public was served the best way posable for their area and as the image of Wien required. The home office never really got involved. As I was often accused of doing at Prudhoe Bay when it was needed, most of the bush station managers actually operated their own airline only the aircraft carried the Wien name.

When Wien shut down in 1983, it was the oldest continuos operating airline in the United States. Hello United and Northwest. The shutdown is a story in itself and maybe later.