"Build a mile of road, it takes you a mile out of town … Build a mile of runway, it takes you to the world."
Flying has become a chore for many Americans, but here in Alaska it's the best way -- sometimes the only way -- to get around. Eighty percent of Alaska communities off the road system depend on some 10,000 registered Alaskan pilots for everything from fuel and food to medicine and fresh water.
Pilots offer a common bond to folks from Nome in the northwest part of the state to Ketchikan in the southeast. A select few will be remembered for helping settle some of Alaska's wildest places. They're longtime Alaskans with deep ties to the land and the people who call this state home.
On Friday, 14 legendary aviators are being honored by state leaders and their industry peers as living Legends in Alaska Aviation, a project coordinated by the Alaska Aviation Museum and Alaska Air Carriers Association (AACA), to recognize a few quintessential Alaskans, whose stories would be unbelievable elsewhere in the world.
Aviators are Alaska's living history, explains says Joy Journeay, AACA executive director. "We are excited that many of the men and women who have built the foundation of aviation in Alaska are still with us, and we're honored to have the opportunity to recognize them and to capture their unique personal qualities."
The Legends in Aviation project accepts nominations through March 1 each year. Nominate your hero in the skies here.
The 2012 class: