Galen L. Hanselman of Hailey passed away on May 6, 2020, at the Twin Falls ICU after a brief but hard-fought battle with liver cancer.
Galen was born in Paulding, Ohio, in 1948 to Ralph and Phyllis Hanselman. He moved to Ketchum in 1962 at the age of 14, when Ralph and Phyllis bought the Ketchum Trailer Park, where the Knob Hill Inn is today. Galen learned to ski, hunt and fish in Idaho’s mountains. He found a lifelong friend and mentor in Ben Hurtig, who managed the Sun Valley Gun Club. Ben fostered a passion for firearms, sportsmanship and later backcountry flying. Galen graduated from Wood River High School in 1966 and attended the College of Idaho, where he graduated in ’70 with a degree in physics. He married his college girlfriend, Mary Zimmer, in 1971, the same day she graduated from college. They settled back in Ketchum where Galen went to work at Sun Systems. In 1974, their son, Marc, was born at Moritz Hospital in Sun Valley. With a knack for electronics and seeing a need for home protection in the valley, Galen started Sentinel Fire & Security in 1976, which he operated for 13 years before selling.
In 1982, Mary bought Galen a flying lesson as an anniversary gift, which planted the seed for a life of adventure in the Idaho backcountry and beyond. He bought his first plane once he sold Sentinel, and after a close call landing at Sulpher Creek Lodge, saw the need for a pilot guidebook for the many backcountry airstrips in Idaho. Galen self-published a handful of backcountry guide books, including “Fly Idaho,” “Air Baja,” “Fly the Big Sky” (Montana) and “Fly Utah.” In addition he published aviation maps for several states, as the FAA maps were largely out of date. “Fly Idaho” is now in its third addition and has all the technical data needed to take off and land at Idaho’s backcountry strips, but is also chock-full of colorful stories.
Galen’s independent, do-it-yourself, fix-it-yourself nature came from being born on a farm, but his adventurous spirit and love of wild places was a result of growing up in the mountains of Idaho. His jovial laugh, prankster sense of humor and sharp intellect will be missed dearly by his family, friends and neighbors, his church and the aviation community. The morning he passed, strong and gusty winds blew out of the west. I like to picture Galen climbing into his beloved Cessna 182, his hands and feet deftly at the controls, as he nosed that plane into the wind for its final take off.
He is survived by his son, Marc Hanselman; his daughter-in-law, Heidi; his granddaughter, Esle May; his younger sisters, Sharon Isom and Diane Clark; and his golden retriever, Molly. Memorial services will be announced at a later date, but will include a service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, as well as a fly-in at Smiley Creek Lodge. Galen will be buried next to Phyllis and Ralph in the Ketchum Cemetery, adjacent to where the old trailer park used to be.