Joe Entrikin, Antarctic aviator and Whatcom County booster, dies at 91


Joe Entrikin

Former U.S. Navy pilot Joe Entrikin, 91, of Bellingham, next to a photo, Jan. 23, 2014, of a Lockheed Neptune, a plane similar to the plane he flew to Antarctica from New Zealand on Dec. 22, 1955, making him the first pilot to fly a plane from land to Antarctica.


Joe Entrikin, who made aviation history in Antarctica and led a group that helped bring Intalco Aluminum's smelter and Atlantic Richfield's refinery to Whatcom County, died Saturday, April 5. He was 91.

Entrikin was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy in 1955 when he commanded a long-range patrol plane from New Zealand to McMurdo Sound in Antarctica, a 14-hour flight. Reporters and photographers waited at the landing strip to spread the news of the first land-based flight to reach the frozen continent.

A short time later, Entrikin saved his plane and crew during a research flight over Antarctica after one of his two engines lost power and eventually died. Entrikin won special recognition from the Navy for his accomplishments and had a glacier near Ross Sea named in his honor.

His flights were part of Operation Deep Freeze, a U.S. mission to prepare for the upcoming International Geophysical Year.

Entrikin moved to Lynden after he retired from the Navy in 1964. He became one of the first pilots for San Juan Airlines in Bellingham, then became manager of the Whatcom County Economic Development Council, which worked to attract industry and other businesses.

In 1983, he and his wife, Phyllis, joined the Peace Corps and spent two years organizing 4-H clubs in the rural highlands of Ecuador. She died five years ago.

At Entrikin's request, no services will be held.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-229 or .

Bellingham Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service