Event Celebrates Alaskans, Life in the Bush and a 'New' Ryan Air
(Anchorage, Alaska) — Quality of life in rural Alaska depends on great cargo carriers; the airstrip is a Bush community’s lifeline. And at a celebratory event held in Anchorage last night, Arctic Transportation Services (ATS) dedicated an evening to celebrating “the toughest people on Earth”—some of the great Alaskans that helped to build the State and the air cargo industry. Those honored were: Eben Hopson, Howard Rock, Eddie Hoffman, Robert G. “Bobby” Sholton, Holger “Jorgy” Jorgensen, Raymond I. Petersen, Frank Ferguson, Neal “Willie” Foster, Martin L. Olson, Wilfred P. Ryan Sr. and Eva Ryan. At the event, Wilfred “Boyuck” Ryan Jr., ATS president, also paid tribute to his own family announcing that the company was returning to its previous name, Ryan Air. “We have operated for just over ten years as Arctic Transportation Services, but for more than four decades we ran the business under our family name, Ryan. We are still a family business and tonight we are reclaiming our heritage.” “Moving forward ATS will now operate as Ryan Air, once again,” he said. The name change takes effect immediately and was featured in a roll-out of a new look and identity for the carrier. Wilfed P. Ryan Sr. and Eva Ryan – Founders Ryan Air Ryan said it was fitting that his parents, Wilfred P. Ryan Sr. and Eva Ryan, the founders of the company, were amongst the toughest people on Earth honored last night. “It takes a person with grit and nerves of steel to fly in 50-below-zero weather with radial engines and an 800-foot dirt airstrip. Someone like Dad, who was the sole pilot in the early days of the business,” he said. Alongside Wilfred Sr. in the family business was his wife, Eva. Who, Ryan says, was even tougher than her husband. While Wilfred Sr. was in the turbulent skies, Eva was on the ground raising nine children, holding down a fulltime teaching job and managing Unalakleet Air Taxi (the company’s original trading name). “Air transportation is a lifeline to villages throughout the Bush. Mom and Dad understood this and took this fact to heart. Their unwavering dedication to raising the aspirations and quality of life of Bush Alaskans is what makes them two of the toughest people on Earth.” Ryan acknowledged the contribution that all of the honorees had made not only to the state but also to the air cargo business, who along with friends, employees and customers had helped Ryan Air get to where it is today—one of the largest Bush cargo carriers in the state. Ryan urged all guests to keep tackling hurdles every day and to continue to build Alaska. “No matter what is thrown at us, no matter what the season, no matter how tough the challenge, I urge each and everyone of you here tonight to continue the work of our honorees, to keep looking forward and to keep building our great state. Let’s move ahead and do the best job we can!” About Ryan Air Ryan Air operates 14 aircrafts out of seven hubs, serving 73 villages and employing 90 people. Ryan Air is 100 percent focused on providing air cargo and mail delivery. Ryan Air was founded in 1953 as Unalakleet Air Taxi Services by Wilfred Ryan Sr. and is now led by his son, who is known to friends and associates as Boyuck. For more information, visit www.ryanalaska.com. # # #
Ryan Air Fact Sheet1950s · Wilfred Ryan Sr. founded Unalakleet Taxi Services in 1953. · Wilfred Ryan Sr.’s part-time air service was popular, and by 1957 he had his official transportation certification. · Wilfred Ryan flew all the flights, and with assistance from his wife Eva, their business prospered. By 1965 he had hired his first pilot and began flying mail routes between Unalakleet, St. Michael, Stebbins and other communities along the lower Yukon River. 1960s · In 1960, Northern Consolidated took over routes south of Unalakleet and began feeding business to Unalakleet Taxi Services. In addition, Unalakleet Taxi Services had a major contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs flying schoolteachers throughout the region. These contracts provided a solid foundation for growth for the company. 1970s · In 1971 Wilfred “Boyuck” Ryan Jr. began flying commercially for his father’s company. On March 3, 1977 Wilfred Ryan Sr. died of cancer. Boyuck took over the family business unexpectedly early. The company had three planes and two pilots. · In the late 1970s Wien Air Alaska began subcontracting its Unalakleet routes to Unalakleet Taxi Services. 1980s · In 1980 the company’s name was changed to Ryan Air to reflect that it was branching out to areas beyond the Norton Sound. The company grew rapidly and successfully acquiring the first Beech 1900 in the state. · Ryan Air had a strong reputation for dependability (able to fly in all conditions) and good service. In 1980, Ryan Air secured further contracts from Wien Air Alaska, including routes from Nome. As Wien Air Alaska increasingly sent its planes on interstate routes, Ryan Air increased its local routes. In 1985, Wien Air Alaska shut down. However, Ryan Air kept its routes and continued to thrive. · In 1985 Ryan Air bought a new fleet of planes—Beech 1900s and Beech 99s—bringing a new level of comfort for their passengers with the added advantage of a large cargo door. · Boyuck grew the company from a small thriving business of three planes and two pilots to become the largest commuter carrier in the state by 1987. At its peak Ryan Air was flying to almost 80 destinations and had 400 employees with 70 pilots. 1990s · By 1996, Ryan Air was reformulated as Arctic Transportation Services (ATS), with the mission of air cargo service in rural Alaska markets. · In 1997, ATS strengthened its all-cargo and mail role. With the all-cargo focus, ATS added a CASA 212 cargo plane to its fleet, with a large rear door and large hold that can fit up to 30 feet of cargo, thereby adding a new dimension to the company and to rural Alaska. 2000s · In 2002 Arctic Transportation Services introduced a freight tracking system, providing reassurance and delivery information to recipients and expeditors. · In 2010 ATS changed its name back to Ryan Air. The native-owned family business remains an all- cargo carrier. Currently it has 14 aircraft flying out of seven hubs, serving 73 villages and employing 90 people. The primary focus of the company is providing Bush cargo and mail delivery in scheduled flight operations. These operations are conducted around its major hub communities of Unalakleet, Aniak, Bethel, Emmonak, Kotzebue, Nome and St. Mary's. · Boyuck continues to serve as the president of Ryan Air. · The current management team includes Boyuck’s son, Lee Ryan, as director of safety and chief pilot, and his sister Stephanie Ryan. Other members of the management team are: Mike Brown, director of operations; Freeman Stolzfus, director of facilities/GSE; Brian Andrus, director of maintenance; Heather Orr, Controller/CFO; Starr van Mersbergen, director of stations; and Jim Hjelm, director of information services.