Pete Haggland, the curator of the Pioneer Air Museum, expects to hear plenty of good material Tuesday at 7 p.m. when Urban Rahoi starts talking about his 78 years in aviation.
At 94, Rahoi has far more seniority than most senior citizens and he is still flying. He has been an active bush pilot and guide, covering much of Interior Alaska, since before statehood.
It’s safe to say that people half his age have a hard time matching his energy level. Get him started on the Susitna Dam, for instance, and you’ll see what I mean.
He started flying in 1934 in Michigan and soloed that year as a 15-year-old. He flew B-17s during World War II and came to Alaska in 1947 at the controls of a Piper Super Cruiser.
“He has used his skill as an aviator to train airmen, fight a war and maintain the safety standard in commercial aviation,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in 2006 when he received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. “He has rescued people in trouble and supplied people in the bush with the necessities of life.”
The presentation at the museum in Pioneer Park is free and open to the public. It is part of the ongoing series of history sessions in which veteran pilots speak about their time in the air. The meetings are being recorded for posterity.
By the way, the Pioneer Air Museum has no temperature cutoff, so chilly temperatures are not an issue.