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Who moved Alaska? Remembering an Alaska-centric world map.

Colleen Mondor
George Hubert Wilkin's Fokker F.VIIA Alaskan, taking off from Fairbanks as part of the 1926 Detroit News-Wilkins Arctic Expedition. Wilkins and Carl Ben Eielson were the first to fly over the top of the world in an airplane.
National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Aviators James and Lilly Martin with their airplane in Fairbanks in 1913. Theirs was the first powered flight in Alaska. Their airplane was shipped to Alaska from Seattle by steamboat.
Alaska State Library
In 1926 the Norge carried out the first powered flight over the North Pole. Here the airship is shown at Teller, where villagers referred to it as the "great flying seal."
Rasmuson Library Historical Photography Gallery/UAF
Harold Gillam, in the cockpit of his ski-equipped Waco. He was among the boldest of Alaska’s pioneer bush pilots, earning the nickname “Thrill ‘em, spill ‘em, no kill ‘em Gillam.”
FIC Collection/Anchorage Museum
Pilot Don Sheldon during a Bradford Washburn-led Mount McKinley expedition in 1955.
Ward Wells Collection/Anchorage Museum
Reindeer being transported in a Wien Alaska Airlines airplane in Anchorage, with flight crew and reindeer herders in background, 1959.
Wien Collection/Anchorage Museum
Undated winter view of Wien Alaska Airlines airplane with musher and dog team in foreground.
Wien Collection/Anchorage Museum
Two U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters from the 343rd Wing, Pacific Air Forces, assigned to Eielson Air Force Base in 1991. The 343rd traced its history back to the first fighter units to arrive in Alaska in early World War II.
National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

As part of the ongoing Arctic Flight exhibit, the Anchorage Museum is hosting a series of aviation lectures. On Thursday, the second lecture of the series will explore how "aviation and WWII put Alaska at the center of the world."

University of Alaska Fairbanks History professor Terrence Cole is the keynote speaker. Here's the museum's pitch: 

Rapid advances in civil and military aviation in the 1930s and the rise of air power spawned a wave of articles, books and maps calling for development of an entirely new discipline of education for the "air age." For a short time this torrent of cartographic reform caused a fundamental reordering of popular American cartography based on the supposed superiority of polar projections, such as the one displayed on the flag of the United Nations. Nevertheless this educational campaign by government officials, cartographers, airlines, ad agencies and schools portraying the world as a sphere, not a flat rectangle, never broke the hold of the Mercator or other east-west projections on the public mind. As a result the prevailing image of Alaska is generally at the far edge of the earth -- if not in a box below California -- but once there was a time, albeit briefly, when it was the center of the world.

The lecture is sponsored by the Cook Inlet Historical Society. It's free and open to the public, with snack service afterward.

Read all about it at the Anchorage Museum website or in the Alaska Dispatch calendar.