Joe Crosson, a brave and skilled pilot, became a national hero between the world wars flying mercy missions in the North. He pioneered air routes throughout Alaska and foresaw the future of commercial aviation. Above all else, he loved to fly. In 1929, Crosson generated newspaper headlines worldwide flying a long, dangerous and unprecedented search in the Siberian winter darkenss for a lost pilot and friend, Carl Ben Eielson. Crosson made a bitterly cold winter flight in an open-cockpit carrying life-saving serum to Barrow, flying through the uncharted Brooks Range without navigation or communications. He was the first pilot to land on a glacier. He had the sad duty of bringing the bodies of Wiley Post and Will Rogers, Jr. back from their fatal crash in northern Alaska. Crosson thrived on adversity and overcame tragedy, and was influenced by two extraordinary women - his sister, Marvel, a contemporary of Amelia Earhart, and Lillian Osborn, the beautiful and able young woman who became his wife.
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Mercy Pilot, the Joe Crosson Story, paints the story from the point in 1913 that Joe and his sister Marvel first decide to become flyers, through Joe's early flights in Alaska, the Arctic and the Antarctic, to building an airline that ultimately connected Alaska with the continental 48 states. It gives glimpses into his life as a family man, his friendships with other pilots (including famous pilot Wiley Post) and to his efforts to help pilots in World War II. The reader learns what level of ability and courage it took to fly in the territory of Alaska with no maps, navigation aids, nor even runways in the 1920s and 1930s. Crosson lost his sister and many good friends in crashes, but carried on. The book is full of outstanding photographs showing people, places and planes of the era. Author Tordoff knows and loves Alaska, and blends aviation and history into a great read.