Born in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin, Wien learned to fly from Ray Miller in 1921 and became a barnstormer in Clarence W. Hinck's Federated Fliers Flying Circus. Wien saw an opportunity to fly in Alaska and migrated there, later bringing his three brothers up from Minnesota. In 1924, with his pilot license No. 39 signed by Federation Aeronautique Internationale Official Orville Wright in hand, Wien flew his Hisso Standard biplane to Alaska and began servicing the gold-rich territory.
His brothers Sig and Ralph Wien, were also bush pilots.
A legend among legendary pilots, when Wien first arrived in Alaska he had 538 hours of barnstorming and aerial circus stunt flying under his belt. He went on to build up a long list of firsts: he was first to fly from Fairbanks to Seattle, Fairbanks to Nome, and beyond the Arctic Circle, across the Bering Strait and was first to make a round-trip flight between Alaska and Asia.
He died on July 19, 1977, in Bellevue, Washington.
- The Noel Wien Public Library in Fairbanks, Alaska is named after him. The library sits on the site of Weeks Field, the original airport in Fairbanks and base for many of Wien's early accomplishments. Weeks Field Park, adjacent to the library, was previously called Wien Park.
- Flying runs in the family: his sons, Noel Merrill Wien and Richard Wien, and grandsons Kurt, Michael and Kent all became commercial pilots as well.
- Noel Wien was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation History Museum Hall of Fame in 1989, the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum Hall of Fame in 2000 and the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010.
- Harkey, Ira B. (1999). Noel Wien: Alaska Pioneer Bush Pilot. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press.
- "Out of the Bush". Time magazine. March 22, 1968. Retrieved 2008-12-22. "After more than three decades of seat-of-the-pants competition, two of Alaska's pioneer bush airlines have joined forces and moved toward the jet age. Wien Alaska and Northern Consolidated Airlines, with total revenues of $12 million, this month merged their 8,500-mile routes, named the company Wien Alaska Airlines, and went public. ... In 1924, with his pi lot license No. 39 signed by Federation Aeronautique Internationale Official Orville Wright, Noel Wien brought a Misso Standard biplane to Alaska via ship to Seward and train to Anchorage. He stayed in Anchorage nearly a month "joyhoppng" people from what is now known as the Park Strip until July 6, 1924. Noel Wien and Bill Yunker departed Anchorage at 2:30 a.m. and arrived in Fairbanks at 6:16 a.m. in the first ever flight between the two cities."
- Saul, Joshua. "Alaska pilot named to National Aviation Hall of Fame". Alaska Dispatch. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- Alaska Film Archives via YouTube Noel Wien interviewed at KENI-TV in Anchorage, 1972
- Air and Space Magazine 10 Great Pilots, March 2003