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Wright Air History

Al Wright, an Athabaskan born in Tanacross and raised in Minto, began flying in the 1940’s. He was involved with various aviation endeavors including Nenana Air Service, Fort Yukon Air, and Wien Airlines. Al was also a registered Big Game Guide. He began Wright Air Service in Fairbanks in 1966, servicing Interior Alaska with a Cessna 180 and a Piper PA-14. Most of the flights were made on floats in the summer and on skis in the winter. The tradition of Al Wright’s excellent flight history has earned him the dedication of Minto Airport.

Bob Bursiel began flying for Wright Air Service in 1966. Shortly after that, a few more aircraft were added to the Wright Air fleet. A Cessna 206 and a Twin Aero Commander 680 were acquired in 1969; and in the 1970’s, the company added Helio Couriers, Piper Aztecs and Navajos. They used the Helios Couriers for short fields and game surveys, and the twin engine aircraft were utilized in support of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline construction. Along with Bob, several other pilots and employees have been with the company since the 60’s and 70’s as well.

Bob Bursiel became owner of Wright Air Service in 1982. Shortly thereafter, the company began scheduled service in 1986 from Fairbanks to villages in Northern Interior Alaska, carrying passengers, mail and freight. The next milestone came when the company acquired a Cessna Grand Caravan in 1991, becoming the first air service to operate the Grand Caravan in Alaska.

Going Forward

In 2017, Bob’s 50th year of work with Wright air Service, he passed the ownership torch to three lifelong Alaskans – Matt Atkinson, Lee Kenaston, and Brett Carlson.  The new owners bring decades of experience in airline, tour operator, and hospitality business operations in rural Interior/Arctic Alaska, and are deeply committed to a continuation of the values that have made Wright Air Service a “flying institution” in the dozens of rural villages it serves.  They recognize that the existence of safe, reliable, and cost-effective air transportation is a foundational component of modern-day village life.

Wright Air Service now carries more than 40,000 passengers a year on their scheduled flights and a growing volume of freight, while continuing to serve the many diverse needs of its chartered air customers. This continued success of Wright Air Service can be attributed to its commitment to safety in all its operations. It is our intention to maintain and operate with the highest level of safety standards while providing the best customer care possible.

Today, the company is operating 11 Grand Caravans, 3 Navajo Chieftains, 4 Helio Couriers, 2 Cessna 206’s and a Beechcraft Bonanza. With 19 pilots, 12 mechanics and 65 support staff; we have become a sizable business over the last 5 decades! At the same time, we remain a traditionally family friendly company toward its customers and employees.  Thus, despite the many challenges to providing reliable air transportation in Interior Alaska such as extreme cold weather and variable loads, Wright Air continues its tradition of flight excellence.

Passenger Information

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