As we catalog the collection, we often times come across objects that have little to no history or story directly associated with it as we find it in a case.  So it’s up to us, the interns, to research and discover more!  This unsuspecting leather wallet proved to be quite an exciting find!  We learned that it was the license wallet for Percy M. Hubbard. 
Hubbard began his flying career in Fairbanks in 1929 and had a reputation as a mercy pilot; fly out any time, any place for people in need.  He also regularly flew mail between Fairbanks and Dawson.
He came to Alaska in 1924 as a stowaway on the SS Yukon out of Seattle.  Upon being discovered he was washing dishes all the way to Seward!  He found work as a mechanic, a skill he had learned in his home state of Wisconsin.  Eventually he opened up a car garage and dealership on 5th and Cushman, selling Chevrolets, Cadillac’s, and Oldsmobile’s at the Service Motor Co., “service with a smile”. 

Percy Hubbard, left, and Ralph Wien pose in front of a Laird-Swallow (NC2774). This photo was taken while Hubbard was learning to fly in December of 1929. Photo from Alaska Aviation Museum, “Images of Aviation: Alaska’s Bush Pilots” by Rob Stapleton).

In 1929 he discovered a new interest, aviation.  He received his Pilot’s License in November of 1931 and his Airplane Mechanics License in November of 1933.  He and partner Art Hines had a hanger at Weeks Field.  The high point of his career was in December of 1934.  He made a 500 mile flight to Ruby in an open cockpit plane to pick up two very ill people and bring them back to the hospital in Fairbanks.  He managed to safely navigate in the dark by following railroad tracks and the Tanana and Yukon Rivers. 

One of his mercy missions came in September 1935, but he crashed near the head of the Chena River, prompting a premature obituary in his hometown newspaper back in Wisconsin.  He had gone out in search of his partner Art Hines who had disappeared on a flight from Dawson to Fairbanks with three other passengers.  Hubbard had broken three ribs, and sent his companions to the nearest city to get help, which was 35 miles away and took two and a half days.  After recuperating, he went back out to search for Hines.  Hines’ plane was found by a party of trappers in the mountains near Healy River the following spring, all aboard the plane had died instantly. 
He continued to fly routinely but crashed again in 1936 near UAF.  This crash ultimately ended his career after losing the lower half of his leg to injury.  

Below is Percy M. Hubbard’s Pilot’s Log.  A2016.FIC.0052, Pioneer Air Museum Collection.

One response to “PERCY M. HUBBARD”

  1. Kurt Byers Avatar
    Kurt Byers

    My girlfriend is Percy’s niece, maiden name Virginia Hubbard, daughter of Percy’s brother. She has a scrapbook of Percy’s in which he saved many news clips about his flying exploits. I plan to scan the scrapbook pages and give a digital copy to you and to the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum in Anchorage, and to other libraries/museums that might like to add news stories about Hubbard’s exploits to their archives. I don’t know what additional information she could provide, but you might consider asking Virginia—who lives in Fairbanks near Pioneer Park—for an interview to glean more information about her uncle.

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