Contributed by Will Hamilton:
Former SJPA-member Lenny Thorell and current SJPA-member Jackie Hamilton recently completed a FAA Flight Instructor’s Refresher Clinic at KBFI. Lenny, a native of Sweden who just turned 90, is probably the world’s oldest instrument flight instructor. Lenny traveled from Europe to join his dear friend Jackie at the course, as she decided to renew her CFII after innumerable requests for her to do so from SJPA members, the FAA, and members of the San Juan community. Jackie and her family have been associated with Lenny for almost all of their respective flying careers.
In the early 1940’s, Lenny was in charge of instrument flight instruction for American Export Airlines which later merged with Pan Am. During 1942-43, he trained more than 90 former Flying Tiger pilots for their air transport ratings. After a distinguished commercial flying career, he retired from Pan Am where he and Jackie’s late father, Bill Sargeson, were both clipper captains. Jackie’s mother, Lucia, who was also with Pan Am, had previously worked with Lenny as a flight scheduler at American Export.
Lenny, a recipient of the Wright Brothers Master Aviator Award, just received a special commendation from the German government on the occasion of his 90th birthday where he flew the entire 14 months of the Berlin Airlift helping to save the lives of over 2 million people. Lenny told Jackie he looks forward to attending the next refresher course with her 2 years hence.