• Image of four aviators at leisure, playing cribbage

    Aleutian World War II

    National Historic Area Alaska

Carl Heflinger

Carl arrived in Alaska in 1932 where wages were better and jobs more plentiful than in Western Washington where he lived. Operating a saw mill and later learning how to mine Carl made a living mining in Alaska. When the US entered WWII Carl enlisted in the Air Force and worked as an aircraft mechanic on Lend-Lease planes destined for Russia. Mr. Heflinger’s interview provides some interesting insights into the changes that have occurred in Alaska – and Fairbanks particularly – over time as well as the mining industry. His WWII experiences remind us of the hazards of aviation and the role women played in the war ferrying aircraft across country.

Download a full transcript of Carl's interview.

Did You Know?

A PBY plane surrounded by crew

A PBY plane piloted by Lt. Jean Cusick was sent from Dutch Harbor, on June 3, 1942, to locate Japanese forces in the Pacific. He was shot down by enemy fighters en route. Five men out of the seven-man crew survived the crash and got into life rafts. Cusick and his enlisted pilot died on the rafts from their wounds. The other three were captured by the Japanese, and became the first prisoners of war in the Aleutian Campaign.