LISTENING PROJECT: Sisters in Flight Service

Patty Simpson and her sister Irene Roundtree started their lives in Petersburg as Wasvicks. Five Daughters Hill in Petersburg is named after the five sisters in their family.

Both Patty and Ikie (as Irene is known) became involved with flying services in town when they were young married women with families. First Patty went to work for Lon Marifern’s Flying Service, then moved on to Alaska Coastal-Ellis Airlines which became Alaska Airlines. Ikie and her husband Lloyd bought the flying service from Lon, renaming it Alaska Island Air, after the airlines where Lloyd first got his start.

Both women recount entertaining stories from their careers, from the early days when Ikie was too scared to use the radio to the time Patty misread the altimeter. The pilot later told her, “If I had listened to you, I would have ended up underwater!” They gained confidence and expertise and the trust of the community, especially the outlying logging camps that relied heavily on the bush planes for supplies and transportation. You can hear the entire interview by clicking here:

Patty tells a story about the time a Russian couple were misdirected in their itinerary, and ended up at her ticket counter, instead of in St. Petersburg Florida, and how she managed to set them heading back in the right direction.