Whitehouse Station - Thor Solberg Jr., co-owner of Solberg Airport, retired United Airlines pilot, devoted general aviation advocate, Princeton University alum, proud Norwegian, and loving husband, father, and grandfather passed away on December 16, 2017 in Morristown, NJ at age 74.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00am on Thursday, December 21, 2017 at Readington Reformed Church. A celebration of Thor's life will be held in January for those that cannot attend the services this week.
Thor was born August 12, 1943 into an aviation family. His parents, Lorraine and Thor Solberg Sr., founded and operated Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ. He attended Whitehouse and Three Bridges schools and had fond memories of his mother picking him up from school in the airport's dump truck. His summers were often spent traveling to Norway with his father. He attended high school at The Lawrenceville School where he played football, wrestled, and was a state champion pole vaulter. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Engineering with honors in Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences at Princeton University in 1965.
In 1967, after the death of his father, Thor began a long career training pilots at Solberg Airport. Originally training Norwegian students, the Solberg Aviation flight school is still training pilots from all walks of life today, five decades later. His airline career began in 1969 with a chance interview at United Airlines and ended 34-years later in 2003 when he retired as a captain of Boeing's "queen of the skies", the 747. In that time, he traveled the world, and was able to do what most only dream—to earn a living following his passion.
He met his true love in 1969, a young school teacher named Marilyn Walker. They were married on August 28, 1971 and were inseparable travel companions. Together, they raised two sons, Thor III and Lars, and adored their four grandsons, becoming "Tip-Tip" and "Far-Far" to Thor IV, Lars Jr., Walker and Alistair.
Thor had a never-ending passion for general aviation. In addition to operating Solberg Airport with his sisters, Lorraine Solberg and Suzanne Nagle, he was involved with many aviation professional and advocacy organizations. As an active board member of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), he served a term as Chairman of the Board of Directors, where he was instrumental in their "America's 100 Most Needed Airports" campaign. As a lifelong proponent of flight training, he served as chairman of NATA's Flight Training Committee.
After his retirement from United Airlines, Thor continued to fly corporate aircraft out of Solberg Airport, earning 11 jet type ratings, while working alongside his family to protect their airport and family legacy from the threat of eminent domain. He also loved to spend time with his grandsons, touring the hangar to look at planes, traveling with them to Norway to meet his extended family and even beginning to teach them to fly. His sense of adventure, passion for aviation and family pride will live on through them and his entire family.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Kearns Funeral Home, Whitehouse. www.kearnsfuneralhome.com
For more details on Thor Solberg's life and charitable donations, please visit www.solbergairport.com