Sheldon B. “Shell” Simmons

“Shell” Simmons was born in in Clearwater County, Idaho, in 1908. He first came to Alaska in 1925, working as an electrician at the Alaska-Juneau Mine. Simmons attended flight school in Yakima, WA, returning to Alaska in 1929.

A daring pilot, Simmons was famous for rescues and mercy missions. He was the first commercial pilot to fly year-round in Southeast Alaska. Simmons established Alaska Air Transport in 1935, merging with Marine Airways in 1939 to form Alaska Coastal Airlines. In 1962, Alaska Coastal merged with Ellis Airlines to form the largest scheduled airline exclusively operating amphibian aircraft. In 1967, they merged with Alaska Airlines, bringing Simmons and partners Bob Ellis and Ben Benecke to the Alaska Airlines board of directors.

* This information was retrieved from the Simmon’s Alaska Legislative citation, issued in 2010.