David Baldwin sent in this photo, capturing his Kitfox next to a 1931 Pilgrim, which is normally inside the Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage.
“They flew it out to Birchwood (PABV) for some work at Alaska Airframes across from my hangar,” David explained. “They finally flew the Pilgrim for the first time after decades of restoration, only several months prior to this photo being taken this summer.
He includes a bit of history about the Pilgrim: N709Y is one of 16 model 100As and the fifth 100A built by the American Aircraft & Engine Corp., formally Fairchild Co., in 1931.
Originally ordered by American Airways, it was the first plane with steam heat, luggage racks and a toilet. Notice the separate outside door for the pilot to climb into the cockpit.
The Pilgrim was built to carry nine passengers, with a single-seat cockpit for the pilot. It was later converted into a model 100B.
Murrell W. Sasseen and Herbert Nicholson bought N709Y in August 1936 for Alaska Air Express. Later that year N709Y was sold to Star Air Service (the predecessor to Alaska Airlines).
Ball Brothers bought the aircraft in 1977, flying mostly fish as cargo out of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Due to fish slime and salt water corrosion eating away the floorboard and belly stringers, Pilgrim N709Y ceased its flying career in 1985.
After the Alaska Aviation Museum acquired N709Y in 2001, it went through a decade-long restoration process. Today, the Pilgrim is airworthy, and spends its summers flying throughout Alaska showcasing Alaska’s aviation history.