Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mc Culloch Aircraft Part 5

My daughter Holly and Fred McLane's son, 1972
Living in Lake Havasu was a memorable time, actually that is why I live here now.  We had some great times for the two years we lived here in 1971 and 1972.  I can honestly say it was almost like a vacation on a tropical island.  Sure it was very hot in the summer months, but social life was very simple.  Each weekend, we would load up our boats and head for a nice sandy beach at the lake.  The adults would spend time visiting and the kids would play on the beach and enjoy the cool lake water.
Mc Culloch families on a Saturday afternoon

So life out of the big city and no freeways and all the hassle  that goes with it, was not too bad.

This was all about to change.  The company was going to be downsized and there was talk that everything would be moved back to California.  Mc Culloch Aircraft was sold to a man by the name of George Morton and the company  would be renamed Aero Resources which was located in Gardena, CA.  A lot of people lost their jobs and some moved away.  I elected to stay in Havasu but would commute to Los Angeles, CA.  I would leave on Sunday evenings and come home on Friday afternoon.  Not the best arrangement, but I needed time to think things out.  The company was paying the expenses for my travel and stay while in California.  Most of the time I could fly both ways.  Sometimes I would drive.

One day out of nowhere, Dick Caldwell was knocking on my door.  How these people found me, I'll never know.  I worked for Dick in Indiana and now he was offering me a job in Kansas City, MO. With all that was going on at the time, I must say it was all I could do to contain my excitement.  He gave me a round trip airline ticket for travel to Kansas City and about a week later I met with him and a couple of other people who were going to establish a new company.  The company was going to use the turbine powered Hughes 500 helicopter and offer a shuttle service between downtown Kansas City and the new international airport which was located several miles to the north of the city.  It was a good offer, we shook hands and I accepted.  It would be good to be back home in Kansas City and I didn't see that their was going to be any future  continuing with my present position.

At that time, I was overseeing the Production Flight Test of new aircraft, and  also I had assumed the role of the companies chief experimental  test pilot.

J-2 experimental test flight at Compton, CA airport

Times were beginning to get tough and our nations economy was looking like some bad times ahead. People were lining up at the gas stations on the odd and even schedules.  I was not receiving any additional compensation for taking extra risk for these types of experimental test  flights.  My decision to go else where was not a difficult one to make.  Moving back and forth across the country was not anything new to me, and I felt like leaving this job and getting back into helicopters is where I belonged.  I really looked forward to being back in my old stomping grounds.  Here was the situation, company was moving, sales were down with big layoffs, I had a new job offer and I was risking my neck for nothing.  I still had a few weeks of work left and was having dinner one night with Fred McLane at a California restaurant.  Fred was really a good friend and was doing his best to persuade me to stay on with the company.  But I had made my decision and I was going to stick with it.  I later went back to my hotel room and an idea came to my head.  I would speak to Fred in the morning and present him with a way that I would consider staying.  As we sat at the breakfast table, I could tell Fred was anxious to hear my deal.  I told Fred I would consider staying with the company, providing they could meet my terms.  I felt life was too short.  I was taking some big risk and I wanted something for it.  I asked for a big, big chunk of money right up front and several other things that would be written into a contract.  I thought Fred was going to choke.  This  would end these conversations and I knew the company would never meet my demands.  Fred then asked, if I would  make my pitch to George Morton, the new company president.  We were all going back to Havasu later in the day and I would have a meeting that night with Mr. Morton.  When I got home I told my wife of what had happened and she was very disappointed that I would even consider an offer from the company.  I told her not to worry, it was a ridiculous proposition and no one in their right mind would consider it.  Just to be on the safe side, before meeting Morton, I decided I would up the ante several thousand dollars more.  Fred was not going to be there, so no one would know the difference.  My offer was accepted and a check and a signed written contract was on my desk the following Monday morning.  I don't know if I signed my life away or not, but I went over to Phoenix the following weekend and bought myself a nearly new Corvette.  It felt good!  Several weeks went by and I got word that the newly formed company in Kansas City that I was going to go to work for, closed it's doors and they never got off the ground with the shuttle service.  Again, I think this was another stroke of luck.  More on this, later.......................

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