I kicked around a bit after finishing high school, I wasn't sure what direction I was going to take. While living in California, I spent some time at college, to tell you the truth, it just wasn't for me. I returned to Kansas City in 1953 and had a great summer. Then it was off to the United States Air Force. I would have loved to have been involved in pilot training, but I lacked having two full years of college. I signed up and took my chances. Then it was a problem with not having perfect vision. After completing basic training in San Antonio, Texas I was sent to Amarillo, Texas to become an aircraft mechanic on Boeing B-47 jet bombers. I was in tech school for six months and then I spent almost two year at Eglin AFB in Florida. I was only 19, so being around jet airplanes was okay with me. After Florida, I spent most of the rest of my enlistment in the Philippine Islands at Clark AFB. I was a crew chief on F-86's and I was promoted to the rank of Staff Sargent.
After receiving a discharge from the Air Force, I returned to Kansas City and was able to get a job at TWA washing those big Lockheed Constellations on the night shift. Having had so much more responsibilities with very complex jets, this was a real let down. I moved around to a couple other better jobs at TWA, still this was not where I wanted to finish out my working years. At the time a great place to work, with pass privileges and lots of other great perks, but not my cup of tea.
On an earlier post, I told you about starting my pilot training with the hopes of getting a Private Pilot's license to fly airplanes. My place of training was Baker's Flying Service, which was located at the Kansas City, MO airport. While working at TWA, on many weekends, you could find me at the airport taking flight training. My early flight training was taken in a Cessna 140 aircraft. Lot's of really neat people doing the same thing I was. So we followed each others progress and we would get additional ratings and check out in all the different airplanes. After about a year, I decided it was time to get a commercial license in airplanes. This was the next logical step and it meant more advanced training and more flight hours followed by another test. Mr. Baker, the owner of Bakers Flying Service was a Piper aircraft dealer and he was buying more aircraft from the Piper factory in Florida. I asked him one day if I could go to the factory and ferry his new aircraft back to Kansas City, MO. With working at TWA, I could fly to Miami, Florida and then rent a car and drive to Vero Beach, FL the home of Piper aircraft. Usually I would take a non-stop flight from Kansas City to Miami and by the time I picked up a rental car (VW bug) and headed for Vero Beach, I would arrive there late in the evening. I could call a lady who worked for Piper and was in charge of new aircraft deliveries. We would walk through a field of hundreds of new aircraft looking for the aircraft I was suppose to receive. I would go back to the motel at night and read the manual for that aircraft and then the next morning the plane would be located at a pickup station for me to preflight before heading up the Eastern coast of Florida. The interior of Florida was nothing but swamps, so I elected to take a safer route to Tallahassee and make my first stop. If all was okay, I would proceed Westerly across the North part of Florida and head for Atlanta. These were really fun flights and I was accumulating the much needed extra flight time. My pass on TWA cost two dollars and Bakers paid for everything else. I did this several times to take advantage of free flying time. While flying at Bakers, I met a guy named Ferdie Shore. We really became good friends and decided to go in together and buy one of the training aircraft that was up for sale. This really enabled me to accelerate my plan to get my commercial license. Flying the Cessna 140's was great fun and it was cheap to operate. Having my own airplane, I could hop across the field almost anytime on a lunch break from TWA and take a short flight whenever I wanted. Finally the day came and I received the license I had worked so hard for.
One night, while driving home from a days work at TWA, the light came on and I made up my mind to go for the helicopter rating. If you had a rating in airplanes, then training for helicopters was an addition or add on rating. That way I was able to be commercially rated in both fixed wing and rotor wing aircraft. So more on this in the next post. . . . . By the way, you can click on all the photos in my post to enlarge them.