Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

Michael E. Henrikson

In Memoriam


March 15, 1945 - December 31, 2020

Known to his classmates and fellow Tigers as "Turk," Mike passed away at the hospital in Reno, NV due to complications from pneumonia.  He leaves behind his wife Ellen.  His online obituary at is copied below.  The family had a small private ceremony but it was videotaped and is available on You Tube at  His fellow FTL classmate, Barney Szymaniak gives a wonderful tribute to his good friend over all these years.

Sacramento - Mike Henrikson, 75, passed away from pneumonia on December 31, 2020, in Sacramento. He was born March 15, 1945, in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Early on, the family moved to Peoria, Illinois where Mike finished his schooling at Bradley University.

Mike enlisted in the Navy while at Bradley. After graduation, he trained and became a Naval Aviator in 1966 who flew in Vietnam. After active duty, Mike joined Flying Tigers in 1971. He continued as a captain when Tigers was acquired by FedEx. Someone once asked him what he did before he became a pilot. He answered, "I was a child."

The night Mike met Ellen in 1973 in Palo Alto, CA, he gave her three choices to guess his occupation: gynecologist, ballet instructor, or pilot. She answered, "No, tell me what you really do." On their first date, he took her to the Officers' Club in Alameda. So he WAS a pilot. They married in 1975 in San Leandro. Their first home was in Danville where they had four children. Next, they moved to a farm in Galt. After trying out different animals to raise on the farm, pigs became the first choice. When asked about life as a pig farmer, he would sharply reply, "I'm not raising pigs, I'm raising kids."

Flying was his first love and a close second was his relationship with all the pilots and crews he met over the years. Mike always looked forward to the annual Tiger reunions. And after moving to Reno in 2012, these relationships continued to grow. Weekly luncheons with the Mondongueros, Tuesday spaghetti lunches wearing his brightest red shirt to cover the inevitable spills, monthly dinners with the Quiet Birdmen, and the-oh-so-many phone conversations with friends around the U.S to keep up with what's happening. Mike was a proficient storyteller, a joke enthusiast, and known for his worldly insights. He could and would converse with anyone about anything.

Surviving Mike are his wife, Ellen, sons Kevin(Ann), Kurt(Crystal), John(Ieva), daughter Kate, and four grandchildren Brooke, Ethan, Alex, and Lizzy. Services at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery will be private. There will be a memorial celebration later in the spring to share "Turk" stories.

The family would especially like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at the Reno VA hospital. Mike was encouraged and inspired by everyone he met there.

Instead of flowers, the family requests donations in honor of Mike be made to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society ( in Arlington, VA.

The following comes from fellow FTL pilot, Barbara Ganzkow:

I would like folks to know that Mike was very kind to me when we were paired up to go through 747 training. He liked to pass himself off as a simple pig farmer from God know's where. That much is true but Mike was smart, kind, and a very good pilot. Mike always looked disheveled. He didn't give a rat's ass and that's one of the reasons why I liked him! The Turk! Good guy. Barb Ganzkow

From Capt. Ernie Belanger (2/2/2021)

When I saw in the newsletter that Turk had died, I cried like a little boy. He was not only a Tiger icon he was a best friend. I flew with Turk many times. Flying with him was always a pleasure. One of the stories he told me was about the time he was flying his jet fighter over the skies of Viet Nam. He said he was a little bit overweight at the time. When he was copying a clearance he would drop his pencil and have a hard time finding and picking it up because of the limited space. So he would roll his airplane upside down and pick up his pencils off the canopy and put them back in his sleeve pocket. Then he would roll his airplane back over and go on chasing Migs. This is just one of many stories I could tell about him. I'm sure that other Tigers have many more. Like Barbara Ganzkow said and I couldn't have said it better "He just didn't give a rat's ass". Godspeed my friend. Have a safe trip. Maybe we'll fly together again someday. Until then we will all miss you terribly. Ernie


Anyone else wishing to contribute to this page with archived pictures or testimonials about Mike is encouraged to contact us at

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