Gunnar Bjornson, ANG, Pilot & Dispatcher

Gunnar Bjornson (red jacket) talking to Joe Olson (seated) after an 8th AFHS-Mn Luncheon Presentation in September 2011.
After service in the Air National Guard (ANG) as a Sergeant and then a Second Lieutenant (At one point he was an MP at the ANG gate), Gunnar flew cargo planes to Vietnam and had a career as a commercial airline pilot, checked out other pilots, was briefly in astronaut jet training during his military career, and worked as a FAA certified flight dispatcher. He drives an amazing 1970s era 3 cylinder automobile which has been totalled twice but still runs after 209,000 miles and gets 47 mpg.  It deserves to be in the Smithsonian for its durability. 
 
Gunnar and the wonder car.
Looking under the hood.
That object by his hand is an air compressor/blower.
The 3 cylinder engine is sideways and very short (note oil filler cap).
Like its owner, the body of the wonder car has been through a lot but keeps on going. 
 
 
 
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Obituary Notice:
Bjornson, Gunnar B. Age 66, of Brooklyn Park, died Oct, 22. A proud spirit has been set free. Gunnar was a passionate, talented pilot whose flying days were sadly cut short by a host of medical issues. He struggled valiantly to the very end, but was unable to prevail against great odds. Gunnar passed away at his beloved cabin by the river, and now flies freely and happily under his own power. Preceded in death by parents Bjorn and Birgit and sister, Sylvia. Survived by siblings, Eileen (Chris) Weber, Bryan, Kevin (Carrie), and Bruce (Judy); niece, Amanda and nephews, Luke and Bryan; our dear Auntie Matta; many loving cousins and friends. Celebration of Gunnar's life Sat., Nov. 10, 2:00 pm at West River Road Baptist Church, 8801 W. River Rd., Brooklyn Park.
Published in Star Tribune on November 4, 2012
 
Gunnar had a very well attended and enjoyable Memorial Service with many people telling stories about his life.
 
Former Printing Instructor, Mr. Junior H. Gossell, 8th AF, (94 yrs young) telling Gunnar's younger brother Kevin Bjornson about the time Gunnar messed up the school's civil defense drill.  Gunnar thought it was a fire drill and mistakenly led a bunch of the students outside instead of down to the protection of the basement. (Even as a 66 year old man, Gunnar always referred to Junior as "Mr. Gossell.")
 
 At the reception afterwards. Bryan Bjornson is on the far right.
The first twin engine airplane Gunnar learned to fly. He learned to fly it at the same time as Karl K. Enghauser.
Early aviator
Family photos
 
Remembering Gunnar Bjornson - Kevin Callahan Nov. 10, 2012

I got to know Gunnar at the Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota weekly luncheons during 2010 and 2011.

Gunnar liked to tell stories and he also believed that you could learn a lot from other people's stories, especially when it came to close calls that other people had had when flying.

After service in the Air National Guard (ANG) as a Sergeant and then as a Second Lieutenant (At one point

he was an MP at the ANG gate), Gunnar flew cargo planes to Vietnam and had a career as a commercial airline pilot, checked out other pilots, was briefly in astronaut jet training during his military career, and worked as an FAA certified flight dispatcher. Spook Johns first met him at the NWA simulator many years ago and Gunnar, Ken Ferguson, Randy Sohn, and several other very experienced pilots regularly got together to talk about aviation on Saturdays at a Pizza Restaurant in Minneapolis.

Gunnar also drove an amazing 1970s era 3 cylinder automobile to the meetings that we all marveled at, which had been totalled twice but still ran after 209,000 miles, could attain high speeds, and which got 47 mpg. I called it the wonder car and told him it deserved to be in the Smithsonian for its durability. Like its owner, the wonder car ran on little, the body had been through a lot, but it stubbornly kept on going.

Gunnar was interesting and fun to talk to. He talked about his many jobs and adventures flying and also teaching and checking out other pilots.

He was smart, funny, honest, independent, knowledgeable, empathetic, and very well liked.

He had many friends at the 8th Air Force and will be missed.
 
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