Excerpt from “Alaska Highway Flight Log” – Chapter: “Doing Fairbanks”

Published May 16, 2017

Will Johnson In His Element

I first met Will Johnson and his wife Debbie at the April 2013 Sun ‘n Fun Aviation Fly-In at Lakeland, Fl. They walked in the General Aviation News trailer in response to a request by our publication for Alaska flying stories. Will, then 65, said he was a pilot and had lived in Fairbanks for a long time. He is originally from Missouri, started flying early and soloed at 17. After service in the U.S. Marines he earned his pilot’s license and advanced ratings plus an engineering degree. He flew to jobs for his company, Westinghouse, where he worked as a project engineer on large turbines. Johnson moonlighted as a flight instructor during those project engineer years. He moved to Alaska in 1986 and began flying for Yute Air. He later bought the company and still owns and operates an offshoot of the firm, Yute Air Taxi, which flies charters for hunters, fishermen and tourists. He now does most of his flying in a Cessna 206 on floats, a Cessna 207 and a Cherokee 6.

Will’s logbooks record more than 20,000 hours in a variety of aircraft including a DC-4, the de Havilland Otter and Beaver and the Cessna Caravan. Two of his three sons fly in Alaska also. Matt, 43, is a pilot for Wright Air in Fairbanks. It was Matt who later told me he is junior pilot on the Wright team with more than 13,000 hours. His brother Seth, 34, is an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic with an Inspection Authorization and a commercial pilot rating. Jerry, 24, is in the U.S. Army and hopes to get flight school training. “Our daughter Christine lives in Missouri and does not fly, but our 20-year-old Victoria would like to learn,” Debbie Johnson told me.