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Ellis Airlines & Coastal Airlines, Memories of my childhood
by Ross P. Bieling


December 15, 2004

Ketchikan Alaska, what a place to be in 1966 as a 10 year old little boy.  I have fond memories of looking out my parents back window on 2nd avenue just to watch the Grumman Goose's and the PBY's glide in for there water runway landings in Tongs Narrows. 

I have great memories of my youth in Ketchikan when I played baseball and had to travel to Juneau and Sitka to play in the state all-star games.  The excitement began long before the first pitch was thrown.  The excitement began when I walked down the ramp to the floating docks and stared in wonderment at those extraordinary aircraft that would take us to our destination.

I can vividly remember always wanting to sit in the bubble window seat as that was where the best view was.  Unfortunately, that was also where one might get a bit wet from the deluge of the water as the PYY took off.  There were the times where the ceiling was at minimum levels.  Not a problem for the pilots of Ellis Airlines / Coastal Airlines as they would gracefully whisk us down the narrows a low altitude until the sky cleared.  I honestly do not remember having a flight canceled on one of our baseball all-star trips.  The arrival was many times as exciting as the departure.  The landing was always a special experience to be followed by the exit from the water when the pilot gunned the engines to propel us up a ramp.

It is now 40 years later, I am married with four wonderful children and a beautiful wife.  My career has taken me through college and into law school at a later point in my life.  However, those special trips on those special airplanes owned by that special airline will always be fresh in my memory, and special.

Now that was the real Alaska growing up.  And Mr. Ellis is one of the great pioneers that Ketchikan owes gratitude to and should treasure.

P.S.,  I finished a dream I always had several years ago.  I became a pilot and own a Cessna 172SP.  The dream was born on those trips on Ellis Airlines all those years ago.


Ross P. Bieling
Sanford, FL - USA



THE LEGENDARY BOB ELLIS, BUSH PILOT; A long, full life 1903-1994 By June Allen

Bob Ellis: Ketchikan Aviation Pioneer Exhibit - Photos courtesy Ketchikan Museums


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