Meet Our Curator: Pete Haggland


1. How long have you lived in Alaska?
I was born here in Fairbanks in 1942 which makes for 72 plus years.  I have never lived anywhere else but for a short move or two with my folks in Seattle when I was a small kid.  When we went down to the states in those days we landed at the old Boeing field airport on DC -4’s and had to clear customs and immigration as we were citizens maybe.

2. What is your background?
When I was a kid I used to hang over the fence at Weeks field (just five short blocks from the house) where we watched the airplanes come and go by what is now the bowling alley that used to be the old Pan American Airways hangar (Pacific Alaska Airways).  I started working on airplanes when I was 14 years old for Bill Laws, Chuck LaFon.  I actually worked on Sam Whites old L-5 at that time.  He was pretty proud of it!  One thing led to another and I soon started flying.  It all occurred on the west side of International about where Books Fuel was located.  I went to work for Pan American in 1962 and moonlighted at the old N>C> Fuel company during the day as I worked just about all  night shifts for Pan Am.

3. How did you get involved at the Pioneer Air Museum?
My involvement with the museum occurred because of the friendship of both Corky and Randy.  I was not very active in the museum early one but that changed in about 2005 when it became apparent that Randy was having health problems and help was needed.  I stepped in in 2009 when Corky passed away.  I don’t recall raising my hand or opening my mouth but here I am.

4. What do you do, as Curator at the museum?
The Curators job is an interesting one and  I am not sure that I totally understand all that it encompasses yet.  I do most of the paperwork, oversee the day to day operations, order things for sale and try and point just about everyone in the same direction.  Just cleaning up the past inventory that was not always documented well. The work needs to be done so that we can be accredited to have better access to other sources of funds and help.  We are making progress to that end.  It is a slow process but when its over we will have an excellent record of what’s in the museum and hopefully who donated it.  Starting out at the Museum I spent over 3 months just going through file cabinets from Randy’s house that included papers for the Museum and a large amount of his own business paperwork all mixed together.

5. What is your favorite object in the museum?
My favorite object at the Museum is the inventory that is there.  There is a tremendous amount of history in the “Gold Dome”.  After 5 years of working there and working with so much of it that it is hard to place a high value on any one or two items.  They all have a story to tell.  Shoes, airplanes, Lend Lease just to name a few.  I am fortunate to have met in my younger years a few of the folks that are mentioned as Pioneers of the Air.  When I worked for Pan Am some of the old pilots were flying the Boeing 707’s.  They started in Alaska!

6. What is your favorite part about Alaska?
Alaska has a very interesting history in aviation.  After flying commercially for 51 years and about 17,000 hours with all but around 200 hours in Alaska I still have not seen it all.  Every area of this “Great Land” has its own beauty and interest.  To have flown without all the aids that we have today gives one a great feeling for what the earlier true Pioneers had to overcome.  We are fortunate to work with todays modern aids!

7. What would you tell someone who is interested in museum work?
To someone who wants to get involved in museums, volunteer and find your passion!

One response to “Meet Our Curator: Pete Haggland”

  1. Mary Waters Monroe Avatar
    Mary Waters Monroe

    I am an old family friend of Pete’s. My family visited his parents in Fairbanks in the summer of 1958 and Pete and his friend Grant stayed at my families house around 1967 in Los Gatos, California. I would like to get hold of Pete. Perhaps he could email me at the above email address? Thanks

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