Saturday, July 17, 2010

Helicopters Inc. Little Rock, Arkansas

Going back to Kansas City and quiting my job with TWA was a big step, considering I was going to a job that was only good for thirty days.  My wife (Carol) also worked at TWA and she elected to stay behind to see how the first month was going to go.  I stayed with a friend in Little Rock for the first few days and then after work, I would go out apartment hunting.  When I finally found one, I decided to take a chance and have our furniture sent to Little Rock.  When the moving van arrived with all our stuff, I didn't have time to deal with it.  So I hired a woman from the newspaper ads and gave her the address.  Each day I would leave instructions for things for her to do and she would leave me a note at the end of the day if she had questions.  I never saw this woman and each day for two or three weeks, she cleaned and got everything put in it's place.  I would pay her every day with money left on the kitchen counter.                                                                                                
Helicopters Inc. was located on the Little Rock airport Adams Field.  They were a Hughes dealer and doing several different types of jobs.  True to his word, Fred McLane the owner rolled out a brand new Hughes 269B helicopter and assigned me to an engineering company that was building a power line between Little Rock and Memphis, TN.  The engineering company had an office just outside the airport where I would be on standby every morning.  The power line stretched across 133 miles and went through several small towns and crossed a couple of rivers.  The 269B helicopter could carry three people which included the pilot.  These people never stopped.  I would fly all day with one group of engineers and then when they were done, I would pickup another group and fly them until well after dark.  This was fine with me, I was building up my flight time very fast and I was getting the much needed experience.  When I wasn't flying the engineers I was flying a helicopter  traffic watch every morning and evening for a local radio station over both Little Rock and North Little Rock.  At one point in time, I was flying the morning traffic watch in Little Rock and then I would hop in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk airplane and  fly to Memphis. The company had a helicopter in Memphis and I would fly the evening traffic watch for the radio station there.  Usually I would stay over for the night.   The next day I would fly the morning traffic watch while I was still in Memphis.  Later in the day I would hop in the Skyhawk and fly back to Little Rock and do the evening traffic watch back in Little Rock.  So with two helicopters in two different cities and a brand new Cessna Skyhawk airplane to commute between towns, I was keeping very busy and liking my new job more and more.

We did a lot of promotional work as well,  The radio station would have what was called a Picnic Patrol.  We would fly on the weekends and land in one of the several big parks in the city.  A radio station DJ would then pass out records to people who were having picnics.

I was sent to a small town just outside of Little Rock to give helicopter rides.  It was the forth of July and this was one of those cities that all the people that ever lived there returned on that day each year.  There was no airport or place to get fuel, so our line boy drove our company fuel truck there to meet me.  I flew all day and until late in the night.
I filled a grocery sack full of money and I would guess we made several thousand dollars giving 3.00 dollar rides. The line was two deep and wound all around the park.  Some people waited for a long time and then reentered the line to go for a second and third time.

Thirty days had now turned into six months.  So needless to say, I think my chances of staying looked pretty good.  I was doing a lot of  aerial photography flights,  patrolling telephone lines and power lines  all across the state.  The company was just getting in to crop spraying using a helicopter but before I got a chance to try it, the helicopter was involved in an accident and was completely destroyed.

Then one day I received a call from none other than Jerry Getz.  He said he wanted to fly down to Little Rock and have a meeting with me.  Fine, this was the guy who said, don't hang around here looking for a job.  We met that evening and he offered me a job with his company Executive Helicopters.  I had built up my flight time to well over 600 hours and I had a little bit of experience now.  I hated to leave Little Rock, as they had really taken a chance on me and during my last two weeks, I was offered more money and several other company perks.  Going back to Kansas City and working for Jerry Getz turned out to be a great  job and in time I was running his company.  Having a little luck can make the difference some times.

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