- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Probably the last time you saw Fred Sorenson, he was airlifting Indiana Jones out of a Peruvian jungle after fleeing from Hovito natives with blowguns, bows and arrows.

That was in the 1981 adventure film “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and Sorenson had a small role as Jock, the pilot who flew the college professor-turned-adventurer in a small seaplane to the jungle to unearth an archaeological treasure before it could be found by a French rival.

The single-engine biplane that flew into the sunset amid a flurry of arrows and darts was one of 120 different types of aircraft that Sorenson, a Las Vegas resident, has flown in his career.

On Wednesday, Sorenson headed into a different kind of sunset.

He was captain of Southwest Airlines Flight 4246 from Burbank, Calif., that arrived at McCarran International Airport right on time at 12:30 p.m., according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/1loHnkt).

It was Sorenson’s last flight as a Southwest captain, because next week he turns 65, the age of mandatory pilot retirement set by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Before the flight with 86 passengers aboard arrived at McCarran’s Gate C21, it passed through a commemorative water arch provided by the airport’s Fire Department. Once the Boeing 737 was parked at the gate, Steve Dubron, an assistant chief pilot for Southwest’s Las Vegas base, climbed a ladder and passed a bottle of Champagne to Sorenson though the cockpit window, a tradition for retiring airmen.


After that, the party began.

Family members, friends and fellow pilots gathered at Southwest’s crew base to offer Sorenson congratulations, swap stories and celebrate a career that began when Sorenson learned to fly at age 16.

Sorenson was born in the Panama Canal Zone with aviation fuel in his blood.

His father was assigned to flying Navy anti-submarine patrols in the Canal Zone at the time, and Sorenson’s life was influenced with frequent travel to remote locations as he was growing up.

Sorenson was hired by Hawaiian Airlines at 22 and flew for the airline until he “retired” after 20 years in December 1992. He launched his second career with Southwest that year and was promoted to captain two years later.

It was when he was in Hawaii that he met “Raiders” producers Frank Marshall and Howard Kazanjian and director Steven Spielberg. Sorenson was hired to fly the movie makers around to scout locations for the film. One day, they asked him if he wanted the role of Jock, the character who helped movie-goers learn how much Indiana Jones hates snakes.

When Jones, portrayed by Harrison Ford, got into the biplane, he was confronted by a python that Jock introduced as “my pet snake, Reggie.”

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