Who is the Man Whose Face Graces Alaska Airlines Planes?

If you’ve ever sat on the tarmac at Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle and wondered who the smiling face on the tail of Alaska Airlines planes belongs to, you’re not alone. Even the airline’s executives don’t know. The design itself came out of a rebranding effort in 1972. Coming off of a turbulent time, the company was looking to reinvent itself. Along with new leadership, improved financial oversight, and a renewed focus on its operation, the Seattle-based airline released 4 new logos. The designs were all meant to honor and represent the “spirit of The Last Frontier.” Planes were donned with either a totem pole for the native culture of Alaska, Russian spires as a reminder of the early Russian heritage present in Alaska, a gold miner in honor of the Gold Rush days, or a native Alaskan adorned in a traditional caribou parka to honor the Arctic region and its indigenous people. It wasn’t until 2016 that the smiling face would become the last logo standing. As for who the face belongs to, nobody really knows. The image was supposed to be a generic representation of the Inuit (formerly called Eskimos), so it’s hard to nail down whether there was one person in particular on whom they based the artwork. There may never be one answer about who actually smiles from the tail of each flight as it leaves the gate, but the face is representative of the native culture of Alaska and the people of the 49th state are pleased with it.