Thursday, August 5, 2010

World Associates

I had been back and forth several times in previous years between living in California and Kansas City.  So now I am finally getting my wish, to live and work in the Golden State.  We packed up and headed West in my brand new 1968 Chevy convertible.  One problem that yet had to be resolved, is that I didn't have a place to live in California . My dad who lived in Lakewood, CA had exhausted all the possible house rental ads listed in the local Southern California area newspapers. Rental property was very hard to come by.  The company agreed to put me up in a nearby hotel until I got settled.  The day I arrived in Long Beach, CA, I found a house for rent just across from the airport and the very next day the moving van arrived with all my stuff.  Sometimes, timing is everything, it wasn't planned this way, but in a very short time, I was set up and ready to begin my new job.  The newly formed company hired two additional flight instructors and I was put in charge to oversee the training of Long Beach and Santa Monica, CA police department helicopter pilots.

Remember in an earlier post I made a statement that policemen don't always accept outsiders.  This became the case in both of these cities.  The two new guys just didn't fit in as planned.  Meetings were held and voices were raised, and it almost came down to where both cities were going to abandon their respective helicopter programs.  I had been sent to Baltimore, MD for 30 days on a trial police helicopter program and was just about finished when all this came about.  So on my return, I found myself in the middle of a real mess.  Long Beach had purchased one helicopter with another one on order. The initial training was for two pilots.  Santa Monica had purchased two helicopters and they had decided on training four pilots.  Both programs were far enough along, that I could divide my time between the two cities and six pilots.  The Long Beach, CA airport lent itself very well to

helicopter flight training.  They had a practice area especially designated for helicopters and considering I only lived one block from the airport, this was going to make things much easier.  I did fairly well with getting the Long Beach program back on track and completed.  One of the pilot's, Ben Post and I became very good friends. Over the years we crossed paths several times.  Ben stayed on with the police department and retired after many years of continued success with their helicopter program.

The program in Santa Monica, CA was just getting started.  The flight instructor originally assigned to their program ran into some problems early on.  He was from the old school of pilot training.  He thought he could get his knowledge and skills across, by screaming and yelling at these new pilot trainee's.  Needless to say, this did not go over well.  We were dealing with professional men that had several years on the department and were not going to take this kind of abuse.   So again, I was faced with making four new friends and hoping they would put their trust in me.  Shortly after we got underway, one of the four pilots, decided he did not want to be in the program.  So another policeman from the department was selected.  I found out that not all police departments are the same. While their mission is very similar, the internal politics is very different.  Santa Monica, was a model city.  Great city government and a police chief that backed his men all the way.  We had all the support from the police department that one could ask for.  Anything I wanted or any recommendations I made, they were granted.  For six months, I owned the city of Santa Monica, CA. I was accepted one hundred percent, and I could do no wrong in the city.  I not only became good friends with the pilot's in the program, I also knew many of the other officers and even some of the prisoners.  Most of the time I drove up to Santa Monica for the day, but later on I could get one of the students to fly down to Long Beach and pick me up.  This worked well and we could always implement the flight time into part of the training.  Santa Monica in terms of square miles, is a very small city.  The helicopters worked very well in the police departments daily operations.  Again, this program ended up much better than it started out, and I was three for three.

We had started a training program in Huntington Beach, CA with their police department and again, we had a personality conflict with the flight instructor assigned by our company and the new pilot candidates selected for the  training program.  One more time, I was back in the middle of another conflict.  This only involved two pilots and I was able in time, to get things back to normal.  When this program was completed, the company did not have any other cites lined up for future training.  No one seemed to be concerned, but I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands.  The pay checks kept coming in and every once in a while I would get a phone call, but nothing ever very important.  I spent a lot of time hanging around the Long Beach, CA airport at Southland Helicopters just to break the monotony of the day.  Then one day while at the airport, I ran into a fellow by the name of Dick Caldwell who with a friend of his was flying a new Hughes 269B back to Indiana.  Another new adventure about to begin........................

No comments:

Post a Comment