After a childhood in the big woods outside Seattle, Don Porter absorbed a modicum of education at a junior college in Iowa and went to Alaska in 1954 to seek his fortune and pursue an engineering degree at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
He never finished that degree because during his senior year he was licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and became the Chief Engineer of KFAR-AM and KFAR-TV in Fairbanks, part of the Midnight Sun Network that covered the entire state. He spent the next twenty years building stations all over Alaska, literally, from cable in Ketchikan, Point Barrow, Nome, Cordova, and Kodiak to broadcast stations in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka. You get the idea. Midnight Sun also blanketed the rural areas with mountaintop repeaters.
Midway through that fiasco, time and troubles forced the engineering staff to fly between sites. The company rented the aircraft; Don flew them. After twenty years in broadcasting, and with a commercial pilot’s license and five thousand hours in the air, he gave up electronics to become a bush pilot.
He flew charter based in Bethel on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta for the next fifteen years and picked up ratings for multi-engine, instrument, and helicopter. If it has an airfoil and an engine, he has probably flown it. Passengers were state troopers, mothers in labor, dead bodies, wedding parties, whatever. On the Delta, Eskimos outnumber Gussaks about ten to one. He was steeped in, and came to respect, the Eskimo culture.
Between his various jobs he covered the state from Ketchikan to Point Barrow and from Tok to the tip of the Aleutian Chain.
He enrolled in the Professional Career Development Institute and has a very handsome diploma from the Professional Private Investigator Program. The point being to make detective novels authentic. He also grubstaked prospectors. He covered the expenses and supplied the transportation; they toiled in the mud looking for gold. His fifty percent of the profits never paid the gasoline bill.
Back to electronics and two years on Oahu making warranty house calls for Sony. A whirlwind tour of the South Pacific, island hopping and building whatever needed building, including two years on Guam resurrecting KUAM, AM, FM, and TV.
He spent the next fifteen years as Director of Maintenance for the ABC television network throughout Hawaii, living, working, and writing in Honolulu. His wife Deborah is an artist who has calmly painted pictures and made a home wherever they’ve landed. When word processors made it possible, he started writing books about Alaska.
Where to find Don Porter online
Where to buy in print
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