Pioneering Denali Pilot Dies at 84


Cliff Hudson, a pioneer of the air-taxi services that make Alaskan climbing accessible to thousands, has died at 84. Hudson moved to Alaska in 1948 after serving in the Army and began working with his brother’s nascent Hudson Air Service in Talkeetna. Cliff Hudson took over the business after his brother, Glenn, was killed in a crash in 1952.

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Daily News

Pioneering Denali Pilot Dies at 84

Hudson and rival pilot Don Sheldon flew the first regular flights to the Kahiltna Glacier, below Denali, Mt. Hunter, and other Alaskan giants, opening these peaks to climbers who didn’t have the time or the will to bushwhack for up to a week just to reach base camp. Hudson also was the first company to station a radio operator at Kahiltna base to manage the air traffic. In 2000, Hudson received an Air Force medal for his part in the rescue of six servicemen who survived a crash in 1954 in the Alaskan bush.

The Anchorage Daily News has a story remembering Hudson.

Jay Hudson, Cliff’s son, took over the business as his father aged. Last year, Jay Hudson died from cancer; there’s a thread at Supertopo remembering the young pilot.

Date: March 5, 2010

Sources: Anchorage Daily News,,