Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

Roy H Olson

Olson_smallFlying Tiger Line Pilots Association

In Memoriam...

Roy H. Olson (Curley/Ole)

Dec. 27, 1921 - Apr. 10, 1989

Roy was born December 27, 1921 in Huron, South Dakota to Hans and Ruth Olson - the second of three sons. To the Tigers he was known as Curley - to family and friends he was Ole.

At the age of 8 he polished airplanes for free rides, and he later caddied at the local golf club to earn money for flying lessons. His only dream was to be a pilot.

At the age of 15 he soloed and earned his coveted pilot's license.

By age 19 he was piloting a B-17 in the European sector during World War II. At Terminal Leave from the United States Air Corps he was a Major. He also flew the P-51 and the P-38.

During World War II, Roy, his sister and two brothers were all in the Armed Forces.

olson3_smallIn 1946 Roy and Bill Hebron started the first crop spraying in South Dakota. Their company was called "Aerial Weed Control" and they flew Stearman airplanes.

He also barnstormed, flew slot man for General Joe Foss at air shows, sold insurance and was the first salesman for Norris Milk Machines, covering the mid-west before joining the Flying Tigers on October 10, 1950. He was based at Salt Lake City, Burbank and finally San Francisco. He flew the Korean Airlift, then Vietnam for the duration of that conflict. In 1956 he flew the DEW line for four months.

Roy was known for his gregarious personality and sense of humor. He always laughed at his own jokes - he was "Mr. Magoo" to his close family and friends.

A secondary dream was to appear on-stage for one night at the Sands in Las Vegas and perform his jokes and one-liners, then be hissed and booed and pulled off the stage. His wife, Sylvia, arranged this to happen at a 60th birthday party - and, for probably the only time in his life, he was so surprised and speechless he couldn't think of a joke.

He often said, " I am the luckiest man in the world - I've loved every single minute of my job - flying for the Tigers."

His final flight to Hong Kong as captain of the B-747 ended December 1981 in San Francisco where he was overwhelmed by a surprise Retirement Party given by fellow Tigers. He logged 31,600 hours of flight during his lifetime.

Having been an excellent and avid golfer all of his life, he enjoyed daily golf, then Dominoes or Gin Rummy with his partners almost every day in Lake Wildwood, California after his retirement. Everyone counted on him for jokes and laughter.

Roy flew west on April 10, 1989 after a lengthy illness - but his laughter has never left those who remained behind.

The Flying Tigers honored Roy at a Memorial Luncheon in Palo Alto - playing the Dixieland Jazz he so loved and telling so many of his stories and adventures. It was a most treasured preservation of his laughter and love of life.

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