Lifelong Alaskans, Wilfred was born in Unalakleet and Eva in Shaktoolik. Wilfred served as a captain in the Alaska Territorial Guard and Eva as a Bureau of Indian Affairs teacher. At age 23, Wilfred started flight training in Fairbanks. He acquired his pilot’s license in 1950 and worked as a station manager for Alaska Airlines in Unalakleet. Upon purchasing a Taylorcraft plane, Wilfred began flying charters between Unalakleet and Kaltag. Unalakleet Air Taxi was founded by the Ryans in 1953, and in the 1960s the company began handling USPS mail delivery. As the airplanes were added, the company grew and service expanded throughout the Norton Sound. When Wilfred Sr. passed away in 1977, his son Wilfred Jr., known as “Boyuk”, took over management of the company. The company continued to grow, becoming Ryan Air in 1979. Today, the company employs over 100 people in an all-cargo operation utilizing 18 aircraft serving over 70 villages in bush Alaska.
* This information was retrieved from the Ryan’s Alaska Legislative citation, issued in 2012.