Alaska U.S. Representative Don Young Passes Away
One of the most influential figures in modern aviation, U.S. Representative Don Young (R, AK), died earlier this week at the age of 88. Young was a staunch supporter of aviation in his home state of Alaska and in general, sponsoring and backing legislation over the years that promoted aviation, especially light aviation, which plays a critical role in Alaska’s transportation infrastructure. Young served as the chair of the House Transportation Committee for seven years. He was the longest-serving member of the House and one of the longest serving in history, his service running from 1972 until his death.
Young was on a flight to Seattle from Anchorage when he became unresponsive. Upon landing at SeaTac, he was pronounced dead.
He first won a seat to the House of Representatives in 1972, following the disappearance of Rep. Nick Begich on a Cessna 310 that was flying from Anchorage to Juneau on a campaign tour. Louisiana Rep. Hale Boggs was also on that flight, piloted by an experienced bush pilot, Don Jonz. No trace of the plane has ever been found. Read our story on the disappearance of the flight here.
AOPA president and CEO Mark Baker said, “Don was the longest-serving member of Congress for good reason: he got things done and he was passionate about what was important to Alaskans.” Baker, who counted Young as a personal friend, added, “Don also cared deeply about general aviation and the freedom to fly in this great country. Representing the strong spirit of aviation in Alaska, Don’s work in Congress kept our airspace open and safe. As chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and a key member of the GA Caucus, Don was a driving force for aviation in Congress. His efforts brought about great benefits to pilots.”