Famous Pan Am Pilots - Wayne Poulsen

Wayne Poulsen was a Pan Am pilot who was admired by his fellow Pan Am pilots both for his aviation skills, and all that he had accomplished in his life for the skiing world and the Squaw Valley area of California.


He was born in 1915 and died in 1995; and in 2005 a mountain peak was named "Poulsen Peak" to commemorate his accomplishments and his contribution to the Squaw Valley area as a ski pioneer and Squaw Valley Ski Corporation founder.

Wayne Poulsen loved Squaw Valley and spent his life defending its' integrity. In 1980 he was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame, and in 2004 his wife Sandy accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Squaw Valley Institute on behalf of herself and her husband.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort overlooking Lake Tahoe


In about 1943, Pan Am pilot Wayne Poulsen purchased 640 acres from the Southern Pacific Railroad and moved into a tent in the remote valley with his wife. Later on they built a house to live in. He continued buying land until he had accumulated around 2,000 acres.


His vision was to make Squaw Valley into "a mountain community dedicated to skiing as a way of life" and in 1948 he entered into a partnership agreement with Alex Cushing to form the Squaw Valley Development Corporation.


Later Poulsen and Cushing had a falling out because of their different visions. Cushing went on to develop the valley as a ski resort, while Poulsen began subdividing and selling the land that he had purchased. The development of Squaw Valley as a ski resort made both of them very wealthy.


During my second year with Pan Am in 1967 I had the pleasure of flying as co-pilot for Captain Poulsen, and found him to be a great pilot and a true gentleman. I recall having dinner with him at a restaurant in Manila where we had a layover, and he talked a little about his skiing passion.


In the early 1970's I became interested in real estate and began to rehab four-plexus in Oakland Ca. However, it became difficult to continue flying and rehabbing, so I gave up the real estate portion and focused on my flying career. I did continue my hobby as a musician and later as a vocalist and singer. After retiring and moving to the Phoenix I elected to get back into the real estate business to rehab single family homes, and the help buyers.

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