Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar: A tribute to the real life Fred Sorenson

Not many people except for aviation enthusiasts would know the name of Fred Sorenson. On a Wednesday in mid June, 2014 the veteran pilot turned 65 and as mandated by the FAA had to retire from his job as a pilot for Southwest Airlines. On Flight 4246 from Burbank, California to McCarran International it was his last flight, professionally. The man had a colorful career as a pilot. He once flew in and picked up Steven Spielberg and a panicked crew up from their Hawaii location while shooting Jurassic Park just as a hurricane was headed to destroy everything in its path. But that wasn’t the first time Sorenson had met Spielberg. Years prior, Sorenson was flying the crew of location scouts around for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those guys liked Fred so much that they offered him a role in the movie. That role turned out to be the famous secondary character Jock Lindsey complete with his pet snake Reggie as seen below.

Movies are reflections of real life characters, like Sorenson—people who live real mythologies. Without such people to populate our memories there is no canvas for which to paint a character like Indiana Jones upon. That’s why I’m so proud that Disney now that they’ve opened up their new Disney Springs—the former (Downtown Disney) have built a bar/restaurant dedicated to the type of real life characters that Fred Sorenson really was. Disney could have done the usual thing and had a restaurant more directly connected to the famous archaeologist played by Harrison Ford, but they didn’t. Instead they decided to concentrate on the spirit of adventure that characters who knew Indiana Jones would have exhibited, which was a smart idea. What they ended up with is a place called Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar which features a theme reflecting the early days of aviation and an adventurous spirit that had roamed the world during that period.

When things really get cynical in my life, I find balance in the type of people who rushed out to the grand opening earlier this week and wanted to be the first to record their experience at the new establishment. Ironically the best video I saw of the event was from the Jones family—aptly named. The couple in the above video run a travel business centered down the road from Disney World. They invented their life so that they could have unfettered access to their favorite vacation destination and live their life within that grand mythology. They are my kind of people, they even homeschool their kids—so they are not the kind of glazed over products that public education produces intellectually. They are fully alive people functioning from their internal bliss, so their optimism is contagious—and revealing. They had to be among the first to visit the new bar dedicated to Jock Lindsey whose character set the tone for the entire Indiana Jones series over the next three decades.

So guess where I’ll be going on my next trip to Disney World? And I’ll likely be more excited than they were to visit Jock’s place. The little Indian Jones relics spread around the bar were put there just for people like me and the Jones family—fans who truly feel passion for the little things in life. But additionally, unlike the Jones family, I have expected out of myself to actually live the life of people like Fred Sorenson myself. Because it takes unique people to give film makers and the creative minds at Disney the idea to capture such personalities on a screenplay page to make mythologies out of. So the adventurous little trinkets that populate the bar from the old-fashioned propellers to the boat dining area outside have a particular appeal to me.

My oldest daughter probably has the adventure bug the worst in our family. Over the last six months she and her husband have traveled extensively first to the Snowdonia mountains in Wales then all over the rustic terrain of Iceland. They often stayed in the type of places captured in the fantasy environment of Jock Lindsey’s bar. My daughter has never really aspired to be an Indiana Jones type of character, but rather the real life Fred Sorenson personalities—people who tend to have beat up luggage and only a fist full of dollars in their possession at any given time living on perpetual hope. And with such people often come personalities of child-like optimism. Movie people know when they meet people like Fred that they need to tap into that essence so to bring their natural magnetism to their projects. My daughter as a photographer is always on the lookout for these types of people because when you meet them good things happen. It’s no coincidence that Fred was involved in two of the greatest adventure films of all time, even if remotely—Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park.

Disney when designing the Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar clearly understood just how important Fred was to Indiana Jones and the mythology that followed that popular character. Of the artifacts displayed in the Hanger is the dinosaur bone that Spielberg gave to Fred thanking the pilot from rescuing the film crew from the hurricane in Hawaii. And that’s how it goes with people who live lives of adventure—they collect a lifetime of items that reflect what they endure through experience. That is why such places are so exciting. It’s why the Jones family and many others were so excited to visit the new bar at Disney Springs. Disney as a company better than anyplace in the world understands how to capture the life essence of adventure without the risk of actually living life on the edge. Guests to Disney Springs can visit Jock’s bar and get a sense of a life of adventure—the type of adventure my daughter just recently shivered through in Iceland. It’s not the same as real life, but its close enough to celebrate the type of life people like Fred actually lives.

I’m looking forward to visiting the place; it will likely be the highlight of my next trip to Disney. It’s not just for the remembrances of one of my favorite movies that Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar represents. It’s the celebration of adventurers everywhere in every walk of life. It’s not just a place dedicated to Indiana Jones, but to the type of adventure that Raiders of the Lost Ark was always a tribute to. Producers from Spielberg’s famous movie knew that the essence of that adventure was in the real life persona of Fred Sorenson. Because without him, I don’t think Raiders of the Lost Ark would have been the masterpiece it was. So it was fitting that when he retired from Southwest Airlines he retired in a manner similar to the opening of Raiders—flying off into the sunset. When I do have my beer at Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar it will be to him that I dedicate it to. People like him are the types we should all aspire to be. They create excitement just in their every day living and they make life just a little bit better because they are alive. They make movies better just by waking up in the morning. All anyone needs to do to make their movies classics is to turn their cameras on those magnetic personalities and let the film do all the talking.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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