Flying High at 94: Fairbanks WWII Vet Pilots Fighter Plane He Didn’t Fly During the War
Rahoi’s work ethic also is legendary.
“He’s a guy who just works all the time,” Wilson said. “If something needs to done, he just does it.”
“He doesn’t believe in ‘can’t’ -- that’s a cop-out,” Wilson said. “He believes there is always a way to get something done.”
As Rahoi’s passenger on many flights across the years, Wilson describes Rahoi’s flying prowess as, “He’s like part of the plane. He has a gift and he doesn’t make a big deal of it.”
Wilson said Rahoi has flown many air evacuations and rescues and has never taken credit for them.
“It’s always summed up as ‘An unnamed pilot…’” Wilson said.
Rahoi’s nephew, Jonathan Ewig, also a pilot, began visiting his Uncle Urban as a teenager, spending summers in Alaska and working for him.
Ewig credits Rahoi for making his life and the lives of his relatives interesting and exciting.
“He was always cooking up something. He always had ideas he needed help with.”
Ewig shared many adventures and trips with his uncle across the years.
“He still seems ageless in his ideas and energy,” Ewig said. “He is always planning for Fairbanks — where the roads go, and highways, where there should be power and dams. Sometimes he’ll drag out drawings that he did 40 or 50 years ago.”
Rahoi was a member of the first Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly from 1964-1966, and put his name on the ballot a half dozen more times in the years since.
During his lifetime in Alaska he has been an outspoken booster of the Susitna Dam project, and various railroad and highway projects.
In the 1950s, he and Robert Mitchell built the railroad track between Fairbanks International Airport and Fort Wainwright, financing the endeavor themselves.
Ewig said his uncle has a drive that is different from most people.
“He looks way ahead. He kind of lives in the future too. He was on the original committee to build the Susitna Dam.
“He’s lived a colorful life. He’s had a great life and done a lot of things that others said couldn’t be done.
“He’s had both knees replaced. We thought that would slow him down, but it didn’t take him but a day to recover. Now they’re worried he’s going to wear them out,” Ewig said.
Rahoi continues to seize each day as it comes and work to make his dreams come true, aviation and otherwise.
Flying the P-51 Mustang wasn’t at the bottom of Rahoi’s bucket list. He has a lead on a B-17 that may be available to fly in May in Anchorage.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at 907-459-7546.