Monday, July 12, 2010

No turning back now, I am on my way

At last my helicopter training had officially started.  It was the early part of October 1963.  October the 8th to be exact.  35 days later I was taking my commercial flight test from the FAA after receiving 15 hours and o5 minutes of instruction.  Contrary to Mr. Getz's thinking, the training went very well for me. Jerry Getz was not a great flight instructor, he was the best.  Flight instructing was not every one's favorite task.  Almost every job I had, involved flight instructing.  It's a hard job, but very rewarding in the end.  Oddly enough I was taking my flight test on my 29th birthday, November 13, 1963.  Most people by this age were already established in their careers.  I at least had the rating, but not necessarily qualified.  Getting a job now was going to be next to impossible.  Especially with all the Army pilot's returning from active duty and with a lot of flight time logged.  Any chances of employment would depend on experience, I certainly couldn't afford to buy it.

Well I broke the second rule by hanging around Executive Helicopters every chance I got.
Jerry Getz allowed me to go on several flights with him and I was able to get a few extra hours of flight time.  Also they did  pipeline patrols for Phillips and Williams Brothers that lasted about 3.0 hours and this was done three days a week.  Again, I was allowed to go along and share half the flight time.

Sure enough, one day I was at the office of Executive Helicopters,  I overheard a phone conversation between Tom Ward the other pilot and a man in Little Rock, Arkansas who was looking for a pilot.  Naturally, when Tom hung up, I asked who was looking for a pilot.  He told me that it was Fred McLane the owner of Helicopters Inc. in Little Rock and he was looking for an experienced pilot.  With the extra flight time I managed to get flying the pipeline patrols and on a couple of other promotional flights, I had around 50 flight hours.  So why not, I decided to make a trip to Little Rock and see what would happen.

I flew down to Little Rock on Ozark Airlines and Fred met me at the terminal the next morning.  When I told him I only had 50 hours, he about fell over backwards.  The longer we talked, he decided to give me a chance and agreed to hire me for thirty days.  He said I'll give you the keys to a new Hughes 269B and if you don't crash the helicopter or kill yourself, I'll consider a longer term of employment.  I went back to Kansas City and quit my job with TWA and then I was off and running.  Flying in Arkansas is like no other place on the planet.  But I was gainfully employed and ready to fulfill my dream.

No comments:

Post a Comment