March 20, 2004
Ellis, born in Vermont in 1903, flew to Alaska in 1929 as navigator on the first direct flight between Seattle and Juneau. After flying with several pioneer air operators in Seattle, Juneau, and Ketchikan, he established Ellis Air Transport, a one-pilot airline flying a YKS-6 Cabin Waco floatplane.
When Ellis retired in 1962, he was already a legend. Ellis Air Lines, eventually merged with Alaska Airlines, was the dominant flying service in southern Southeast. He had been a "flying Santa Claus", carried out daring rescues, served in the Territorial Senate and as Ketchikan's mayor, and had performed distinguished wartime service with the Navy in Sitka, Kodiak, and the Aleutians. He may be best remembered, however, for introducing the Grumman Goose to Southeast commercial aviation. For nearly two decades, "Gooses" were the backbone of the Ellis fleet.
Bob Ellis died in 1994. On February 27, 2004, he was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame.
The Bob Ellis program is open to the public. Admission is free. Those attending are encouraged to share their memories of Ellis and heyday of Ketchikan aviation.
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