"Heroic is an overused adjective, but in this instance, it is quite appropriate. . . . Written in a warm, straightforward style, this is a book that is a pleasure to read."
(Pacific Northwest Quarterly)
"One of the pure pleasures of this book is the sense Harkey gives the reader of just how profoundly airplanes changed life in the North. . . . [This] northern classic achieves what every biography should be by showing us the character of a humble and interesting man who definted what it means to be a great Alaskan."
A legend among legendary pilots, Noel Wien first arrived in Alaska in 1924 with 538 hours of barnstorming and aerial circus stunt flying under his belt. Before air charts and radio communication, the navigation of Alaska's rugged terrain depended on solely on the use of natural features for check points and the innumerable rivers and mountains too easily could look identical. Wien embraced the challenge and built up a long list of firsts: he was first to fly from Fairbanks to Seattle, Fairbanks to Nome, and beyond the Arctic Circle, and was first to make a round-trip flight between Alaska and Asia.
Through decades of experiences in an unyielding land, Noel Wien turned a vision of establishing commercial aviation in the north into reality, and in so doing he brought the people of Alaska closer and helped open Alaska to the outside world. In this dramatic account of a flying hero, Pulitzer Prize winning author Ira Harkey describes Wien's experiences in an engaging style, and he establishes Wien's place in Alaska history.