February 1, 1934 – April 1, 2020
Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2020 issue
The pilot who helped fly the B-29 bomber, later known throughout the world as “FiFi” from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California to Harlingen, Texas in 1971, where the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) was first headquartered, Randall (Randy) Lee Sohn, 86, of Savage Minnesota, passed away April 1, 2020 due to COVID-19.
Sohn was nothing less than a warbird legend in the eyes of anyone who knew and respected his flying abilities and knowledge of warbirds. Sohn flew most every World War II military aircraft, and flew them better than most. He was a wonderful teacher and generously passed along his warbird knowledge in the form of his warbird notes, according to those who knew him best.
Sohn was born to be a pilot in Lake Park, Iowa on February 1, 1934, but became a longtime resident of Minnesota.
Sohn was a complex man who rose above a fairly pedestrian background, exercising his creativity, determination and ingenuity to achieve extraordinary things. He went from his first flying lesson in January 1953, to the Air Force in August that same year, to graduate as an aviation cadet at Reese Air Force Base in 1955. In other words, Sohn wasted no time to build flight time and experience in military aircraft.
Sohn became a flight instructor for multi-engine aircraft in 1958, and added most World War II aircraft to his logbook as a member of the Commemorative Air Force.
Sohn and his first wife, JoAnn, married in 1956, had their daughter, Sari, at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, and son, Mike, at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. The family settled in Minneapolis where Sohn became a pilot for North Central/ Republic/ Northwest Airlines beginning in May 1960 and retired flying DC10s and Boeing 747s in 1994.
Sohn married his second wife, Judy, in August 1991, and moved to a quiet lake home with a multitude of storage buildings for his collection of cars, magazines, and books.
Sohn was inducted into the EAA Warbirds Hall of Fame in 1998, and was an enthusiastic participant in numerous aviation foundations, interest groups, and forums, as a pilot, instructor, check airman, tractor aficionado, mentor, raconteur and writer.
Sohn is survived by his wife, Judith Joy Sohn, daughter Sari (Jim) Hughes, son Mike (Luwela) Sohn, and grandson Dayne Sohn. He was preceded in death by his parents, Casey and Molly Sohn, and sister Patty.