Pilot Station is a Central Yup'ik Eskimo village on the northwest bank of the Yukon River. It lies 11 miles east of St. Mary's, and 26 miles west of Marshall in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
The village was first called "Ankachak" and was later moved one-third mile upriver to a site called "Potiliuk," near an old village site called Kurgpallermuit. This village is a designated historic place as it was occupied during the bow and arrow wars between the Yukon and Coastal Eskimos. According to locals, the Chevak and Pilot Station people periodically fought when the coastal people traveled up the Kashunak River.
In 2011, Alaska Department of Labor Estimates put the population at 583. Some residents hold commercial fishing permits. Incomes are supplemented by subsistence activities. Salmon, moose, bear, porcupine, and waterfowl are harvested.
A Russian Orthodox Church was built in the early 1900s and is one of the oldest structures in the region. Roman Catholic presence began with baptisms in the late 1800's by visiting missionary priests of the Society of Jesus.
In 1914, a Jesuit priest established a formal Catholic parish at Pilot Station. He placed it under the patronage of the Jesuit martyr, Blessed Charles Spinola. A new church was built in 1947 and was blessed under the patronage of St. William in memory of William Thomas Sheppard whose family donated materials for the building. However, Blessed Charles Spinola, often referred to as "Saint" Charles Spinola is the name that "stuck" and that has been the officially recognized patron of the Pilot Station mission. He has, to date, not been canonized. In 1995, the present church was built almost entirely by volunteer labor. It was dedicated on December 10, 1995.
The church at Pilot Station was served by missionary priests of the Society of Jesus from the beginning of one century to the turn of the next. Most visited from Mountain Village, though a few have been in residence. Because of priest shortages since then, the church has been served by parish administrators to take charge of the day to day activities of parish life; by pastoral coordinators; and by Native Deacons. Religious Sisters of Saint Ann and Sisters of Saint Joseph have also been an important presence at Saint Charles Spinola Parish.
Presently, parishes in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area of the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks are served on a rotating schedule by ministry teams which may include priests, deacons, religious and trained lay staff members. Celebrations of the Word with Holy Communion may replace Sunday Mass when a priest is unavailable. St. Charles Spinola is served by visiting ministers of Diocesan Y-K Subregion B.