Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mc Culloch Aircraft Part 2

I am getting settled in my new job (boy, I have said this before) and it's pretty obvious that my new boss, Jim Richert is playing a game with me. I think I had mentioned earlier, I was a bit skeptical.  I must have prepared and rewritten that J-2 Flight Manual 25 times.    I felt like a high school kid turning in an essay in English class and getting it returned with lots of red correction marks.  I had a really nice gal working for me that would retype the manual and while I wasn't doing anything else, it kept me busy. Also my wife had her first hip replacement surgery and I was able to stay close by during that time.  We were getting closer by the day on completing the certification on the J-2 Gyroplane.  Finally in late November of 1970, the company made the announcement that it was approved by the FAA.  The company had a large dinner party to celebrate the event.  Meanwhile I was going down to Thermal, CA and getting some stick time in the J-2.  On the ground it handled like an airplane, in the air it was somewhat like a helicopter.  It required a level hard surface for both takeoff and landings and it would not hover.  It would land in a very short distance, but the takeoffs were something else.  Even with all the lengthy test that were done during the certification process, the aircraft had some very dangerous tendencies that no one knew about and some of this would come to light later on.  Also a few of the problems with this aircraft that the engineering folks thought could be corrected later on, it was not to be, it would be impossible.  This all came at a great expense and still the aircraft had some very undesirable characteristics.  Like my good friend Jerry Getz said, it would take them a couple of years to find out all of this.  Jim came to me one day while we were training at the Thermal airport , and said, the FAA examiner will be over tomorrow to give me a flight test for both my commercial and flight instructor rating in the aircraft.  This was really kind of a joke, in as much as the FAA was not checked out in the aircraft either.  But this is the way it was done and far be it for me to complain, I just want to get on with the job I was hired for.  Also at the time, another pilot, Newton Harris was checking out too and he was someone I knew from my Little Rock days and Fred had hired him to work in the Production Flight Test of new aircraft.
                                                                    Mc Culloch J-2 Gyroplane
Meanwhile, it looks like I am going to get started with training pilots in the J-2. Jim came to me one day and said I should look for a place to live in the Lancaster, CA area. Flight training would more than likely be done at the local airport. Also, Long Beach, CA had been mentioned. This would have been fine with me, I lived around the corner from the airport. I drove up to the high desert and looked at houses in the city of Lancaster. We found several, but to tell you the truth, I was not too excited about moving out of the greater Los Angeles area. A couple more weeks went by and it was almost Christmas time again. Fred called me into his office one day and told me that it had been decided that the flight training would be done in Lake Havasu City, AZ, and I would be moving after the first of the year. I was shocked, I had never heard of the place before and I was not too thrilled with the idea of leaving California. Again, things are not always what they seem to be at first. We drove over to Arizona and looked the place over. The company put us up in a nice hotel right on the lake. The town was about five thousand people and everything was pretty much new. Luck was on my side again. Not only was I moving to Arizona, so was everyone else in the entire company. Rental houses would be hard to find. But maybe not, in driving around, I spotted a nice house for rent and we were able to sign a rental contract that very day. Again, the old red piano, was going to make one more trip. We returned to California and began the task of packing and and getting ready for our move. I hated to leave California at the time, but my first impressions of the newly formed Arizona city, looked pretty inviting.

Sunset at Lake Havasu City, AZ
Also the town was founded by Mr. Robert Mc Culloch, the same people that owned the company I was working for. More on Mc Culloch Aircraft in the next post..................

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