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His logbook read “Forced down, gas and oil out, walked 40 miles back.” And Merrill himself was famously missing for three weeks with members of a Fox Film crew while en route to Barrow in 1928.In a final message he left in his aircraft before hiking out, Merrill wrote, “Hope to make Barrow or a Native home but rather doubt whether I can.
He also did everything he could to get back into the air.
A love for flying lured dauntless daredevils to the icy Last Frontier in the 1920s.
But when Russ Merrill’s plane went down between Anchorage and Sleetmute, it ignited a 10,000-mile search and changed the burgeoning world of aviation forever.
Hunters and fishermen found their way to remote camps with Merrill, establishing a burgeoning tourism economy for the region where one had been largely impossible before the airplane.
Merrill was also late, lost or long overdue more than once.