Taking Flight: Ketchikan's Commercial Aviation History : A collaboration with Don 'Bucky' Dawson with support from Chuck and A.J. Slagle to celebrate a century of commercial aviation in Ketchikan
Don 'Bucky' Dawson - A Brief Biography

Don 'Bucky' Dawson has had a life-long interest in art, history, and aviation. Born February 7, 1950 in Munich, Germany, Don grew up in Chicago and first came to Alaska in 1971 for 18 months of sea duty aboard the USCGC CLOVER based in Sitka. Cruising around the Panhandle and up to Kodiak, he came to know and love The Last Frontier. Completing enlistment at San Francisco, there Don studied commercial illustration and design. In April 1977, he returned to settle in Ketchikan. Working initially as a free-lance graphic artist and picture framer, he decided to combine his art talents and favorite pastime by specializing in aviation artwork and photography and formed Aviation Arts Unlimited. His first commercial jobs in this field were promotional program cover and poster art designs for major airshow and air race events in the Lower 48, and corporate design and photography work for Ketchikan's local airlines. Don designed company aircraft fleet color schemes for Tyee Airlines, Temsco Airlines and Temsco Helicopters, Westflight Aviation, Revilla Flying Service, Fresh Air, Taquan Air Service, and Ketchikan Air Service, as well as many schemes for vintage private aircraft, including the Grumman Widgeon, Goose and Albatross twin-engine amphibian flying boats, and a two-time national champion Unlimited Class P-51 Mustang air racer and a Hawker Super Sea Fury. Gaining notoriety also as a well-published aviation photo-journalist, author, and historian, Dawson was designated as official event photographer and historian of record for the Reno Air Racing Association.

Dawson has devoted a great portion of his career researching and writing about Alaska's civil and military aviation history, and is active in the museum field. Since 1980, he's been involved as a staunch volunteer for Ketchikan's Tongass Historical Society, Inc. local non-profit as a life member and past-president, and continues to serve on their board of directors. In 1988, In response to the City's capital project proposal plan for a new museum design on the old Spruce Mill site, Don initiated and led the ambitious THS-sponsored "Save The Goose" project to acquire an authentic vintage Grumman Goose as its' centerpiece. He spearheaded a successful 1992 public fundraising campaign that brought home Ellis Air Lines' original queen of the fleet, N88821, and staged a 11/8/92 celebrative winter airshow featuring three flying Grummans. This Goose has been undergoing a long and extensive restoration/rebuild program to date. The City shelved the new museum idea in 1997, but THS-STG hopes to eventually display the Grumman at Ketchikan International Airport, inside a 3rd level addition to the Terminal Building, as key component for a local aero-history satellite museum, after Goose 821 gets completed.

Dawson has given numerous slide lecture presentations on Alaskan historical subjects, and in 1988 was a guest speaker at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C. for a program on famous Alaska pioneer bush pilot, Harold Gillam. He has co-produced several TV documentaries on Alaskan civil aviation history topics for KTOO-TV/Juneau public television's popular 'Rain Country', and for the Outdoor Life Channel.

Dawson still manages to find time to continue doing his artwork and photography, and some of his commissioned historical illustrative paintings have been published as signed limited edition special signatory collector prints. Foremost of these are his 1989 release, "DOWNWIND MIGRATION", depicting a circa 1955 Ellis Air Grumman Goose in flight over Ketchikan's Deer Mountain, and the 1991 special 50th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Attack commemorative, "UP & AT 'EM!", depicting legendary USAAF P-40 pursuit pilots in action over Wheeler Field on 12/7/41, for the Alaska Air National Guard Officer's Association.

In 1995, Dawson decided to get a 'regular job', and devoted 16 years working as a parts and purchasing manager in the maintenance departments of the original Taquan Air and Promech Air, helping them keep their large commercial air-taxi fleets of DeHavilland and Cessna aircraft flying, retiring in December, 2011.
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Don 'Bucky' Dawson, Easy Rider-98 Echo, Ketchikan, AK ,1984Don 'Bucky' Dawson, Easy Rider-98 Echo, Ketchikan, AK ,1984
Don 'Bucky' Dawson selfie with Goose 821 in Hangar, 2022Don 'Bucky' Dawson selfie with Goose 821 in Hangar, 2022