Ernie Gibson: Hero to Lost Hikers

By Charles Hillinger

The Los Angeles Times

January 27, 1982

CHELAN, Wash. – When the weather is bad and Ernie Gibson is flying his plane, he puts aside his pipe and takes to whistling. He whistles a lot this time of year.

Gibson, 64, has been a bush pilot in Washington’s Cascade wilderness for 37 years. The floatplane skipper is a hero to hundreds of youngsters and adults in one of the most rugged slices of the Pacific Northwest.

Glimpses from the Past ~ Pilot Ernie Gibson

Ernie Gibson, long time owner-pilot of Chelan Airways, spent much of his time transporting folks to and from Stehekin in a wide assortment of aircraft. Everything from fishing trips into Trapper and Domke Lakes to emergency flights to help someone in serious need of medical help. We remember him fondly as a quiet, superb pilot and friend.

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Early this summer, I received some very interesting photos from someone whose family had some historic ties to Stehekin. The photos capture a glimpse into a unique era. I know that some of the fire lookouts still stand in Washington, but in the almost 40 years since my first visit to Stehekin I have only seen the charred remains of what was once a fire lookout. These small spare cabins, often perched high atop tall mountains were the summer haunts of young men, and sometimes women, who were hearty hikers and looking for wilderness experiences, all the while serving the greater good.

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