Captain Hans Einar Fugl-Svendsen has been a pioneer all his life.
During the Second World War, in 1942 he was one of the first Danes to join the British Royal Air Force to fight the Germans.
In 1947, he was the first pilot to land a plane from abroad on Phuket. In February that year, he landed a Royal Air Force plane to tank up for fuel on his way to Singapore.
And in the early 60’s, he was one of the first Danish pilots to fly for Thai Airways International which had at the time just been established with the assistance of SAS – Scandinavian Airlines.
Now turning 80 years, he can indeed look back on a life time of accomplishments out of the extraordinary.
Mr. Hans Einar Fugl-Svendsen was born in Denmark on 16 August 1924. He was brought up and educated in England and later joined the English Royal Air Force in the war during 1942 to 1947.
His interest in flying revealed during his years at Oxford University when he has his first flight. His brother Axel Svendsen took hem in a Magister, a two seated open cockpit aircraft and flew him to the squadron base at Manston airport on the east coast of England. That was when Hans discovered the love of flying. He immediately enrolled in the RAFVR via a short course in Oxford University, where he passed the school of Air Defense Cadet Corp and became top sergeant.
His love for Thailand, where he has lived most of his adult life, started in 1947 when he was flying a Royal Air Force Aircraft from England to Singapore. To refuel his aircraft, he landed in Phuket in February that year and is probably the first pilot to ever land an aircraft from abroad on Phuket.
Later that year, he moved back to Denmark to start flying for the Danish Airlines, which later became SAS – Scandinavian Airlines.
After a brief stop by to Thailand, fourteen years later, he moved to stay in Thailand in 1961 when he was still flying for SAS. The Thai Airways International has requested SAS for a jet aircraft in order to improve speed and services, so Hans along with a group of pilots headed for Thailand to fly the CV.990 Convair Coronado, the first jet aircraft in their fleet and the fastest ever built as well as to train the Thai pilots. His wife and two daughters moved with him, while his eldest daughter stayed in Denmark to continue her education.
Hans later returned to SAS and got promoted as Manager of Flight Procedures and was flying around the world but his duty was mainly to keep an eye on Thailand and Asia Pacific region.
At this point, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) elected him as a member and asked him to represent them at the meetings in Bangkok about the problems in the Pacific region. He flew to Bangkok for meetings quite often and eventually grew attached to the country.
In 1980, IATA asked him to take over the IATA Regional Technical Office as a Regional Director for Asia Pacific, a position he carried until 1991. SAS supported this appointment and granted him an early retirement in January 1980, when he moved to Bangkok with his family for the second time.
In 1990, IATA moved its office to Singapore but by now Hans was so attached to Thailand that he refused to move and joined the Thai Airways International Ltd. as Flight Operations Advisor during 1991 to 2003.
To Hans, Thailand is a beautiful and peaceful country, where people are easy to talk to as well as to work with. He accounted this for Buddhism; the country’s prevailing religion.
“It does not demand anybody else to join in like some other religions. We live because we are living and we when we die we hope for a better life and that is the end of the story,” Hans said.
“The culture is wonderful and there are many places to visit and many things to do here in Thailand. This is quite different from Denmark as it is a small and quiet country with greenery. The Thais are honest, kind and helpful. The hospitality here is the kind not to be found in other countries,” he added.
Hans is a family man. He and his wife were married for more than 55 years, with three daughters and now ten grandchildren, before she passed away in 1997. He has indeed a big warm and lovely family, where all of his descendants live a happy and successful life. He believes that if children are brought up in a family with love and care, these things tend to stay with them for life.
Now living in Thailand as a retiree, with his wife passed away and the rest of his family in Denmark, Hans stays in a cozy house in Sukhumvit Road with his Thai family.
“When my wife became handicapped, I had nurses to look after her for the past 10 years before she passed away. The nurses and the cook now became my Thai family as they have been a great part of my life for 24 years,” said Hans.
With his age, however, Hans does not stay idle and let the time go by. He engages in many activities and one is as a Chairman of Fugle Service Ltd. Partnership, which is established in October 2000 to provide services such as tours, transportation and accommodation in Thailand as well as golfing arrangements within the country. He ensures that the visiting family and friends receive the highest attention and assistance and are shown to the real Thailand and its people and their wonderful culture.
Hans also assists in holding courses in English for students and teachers of Matthayom Watthatthong School as a volunteer. But the most significant work is his support for Sataban Saeng Sawang Handicapped Children’s Foundation, which is the first special preschool for handicapped children in Thailand founded in 1979.
When the Queen of Denmark visited Thailand in February 2001, Hans had Her Majesty to visit the place and watch the children performed in dances in welcoming her. Following the visit, a donation was received from Her Majesty’s and Prince Henrik’s charity fund.
Some handicapped children needed physiotherapy so Hans built a spa pool at his place and had the children to receive treatment there with the therapist. He requested people and friends to donate the money to the foundation and within a year, he had enough to build the spa pool at the foundation and hired a physiotherapist from Denmark to train Thai therapists on how to use the pool and how to treat children. The treatment is called hydro physiotherapy.
Hans spends his leisure time golfing, which he did for almost 50 years. Every year, he goes back to Denmark for the summer holiday to celebrate his birthday, where he and his friends would have a golf tournament. Although he turns 80 years this year, his birthday will be celebrated just as any other year, he says.
Captain Hans Einar Fugl-Svendsen has been a pioneer all his life.