Flying – my father, Al

My father, Al Thorwaldson, was an avid pilot – an interest that would, unfortunately, lead to his death. Why? Because after his bride, my mother, Cathlyn Schabel Thorwaldson, passed when giving birth to me, Al decided to go to work for the China National Aviation Company (CNAC) to fly a DC3 over the Burma road to drop rice to the workers building the road.

Here is a picture of the aircraft signed by three of his good buddies who flew with him in 1945. Al was on a drop on January 14, 1945 when his military DC3 failed and forced the aircraft into an uncontrollable left bank, flying right into the side of the canyon the road was in. He died instantly but by some miracle the Chinaman in the back who was pushing rice out the back door lived through the crash.

Jim Dalby was flying right behind Al that day and he later met with me and told me about his flight. But he was so busy flying his plane he did not see Al’s crash.

In about 2010 I visited a medium in Orange County to talk to Al. I wanted to know more about his crash and whether his aircraft had been hit by Japanese gunfire. He told me (through the medium) that the aircraft had a failure that was not possible to detect in his preflight tests. He also showed the medium a bottle of Akvavit, a Norwegian liqueur that is delicious. The reason he showed that was to tell me that he was with me as I flew from Sweden to the US after visiting Stockholm. On that flight I was sitting at the left side window looking down over a moonlit panorama of ocean and islands. I had a Danish beer and a shot of Akvavit and I was crying over the beauty of it all. (and over the exhaustion I felt after 2 weeks traveling in London, Copenhagen, Germany and Sweden). So Al was showing me that he was right there at my side.