Rex Bishop started his aviation career right after college, working for his uncle Jim Ricklefs, owner of Rick Helicopters in San Francisco. In the 1950s, Rex and his uncle would transport helicopters to Alaska in the summer, working out of Merrill Field. In the fall, they would truck the helicopters back to California for winter agricultural work.
In the 1960s Alaska Airlines sold their helicopter branch to Jim Ricklefs, and the company was renamed Alaska Helicopters. Rex and his wife Ruth bought the company in 1967, and moved to Anchorage to run the growing business. In 1978, Alaska Helicopters joined forces with Columbia Helicopters of Portland, Oregon. The expanded company moved into a new, large facility at the Anchorage International Airport in 1981, which allowed it to expand its services.
Rex was a founding member of the Alaska Aviation Safety Foundation, and was instrumental in creating the Alaska Air Carriers Association in 1966. Rex continues to give back to the aviation community by donating time to the Alaska Aviation Museum.
* This information was retrieved from Rex Butler’s Alaska Legislative citation, issued in 2013.