Chapter 12 – Korea

In 1980 I got to attend the Paris Air Show. I didn’t fly in the show, but I flew a version of the 737 over to Paris which Boeing hoped to sell to Sweden or Norway as a patrol airplane to guard their shores and look for submarines.

I got to do some sight seeing in Paris which I enjoyed. I strolled the banks of the Seine River and got up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t get to go in the Louvre. It was closed. I did enjoy the Moulin Rouge. I had dinner there and enjoyed the floor show. I stayed 2 days in Paris and could have stayed longer and would have if Ruth had been with me. Ruth could have gone on the trip with me and would have enjoyed the sight seeing, but she doesn’t like to travel by air. I could have several passengers on board my flight who got a free trip to Paris.

In 1980 my last year of work at Boeing, I got to go to Korea. The trip was supposed to last a week, but lasted a month. I saw a lot more of Korea than I wanted to.

The Koreans were buying Boeing 747s. My boss and I got the job of riding to Korea with the Koreans and were supposed to test fly a 747 there and return it to Seattle when the Koreans would fly a new 747 to Korea.

Sandy took his wife on the trip. Bill Spence, our flight engineer, took his wife and I was supposed to take my wife. Ruth made a lucky decision not to go although she would have enjoyed the shopping in Korea. Also on the trip was Clayton Scott, Sandy’s ex boss, and Scotty’s friend Ray Perka who owned and operated a spring business near Renton airport.

The trip to Korea was fine, but we found out after we arrived that we might be in for a long stay. The Koreans were short of money and it might be some time before the new 747 arrived and we could take the trade-in airplane home.

We stayed at a hotel called Lotte. I think it was owned and run by the Japanese. Many businesses in Korea were owned by Japanese. The department store next to the hotel was owned and run by Japanese. I got to watch the morning opening one morning. It was quite a ceremony with much bowing. I guess they did it every morning to encourage the employees to do good work.

It was hard to keep from going crazy with so much time to waste. I planned my day to take two walks a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. On one of the walks, I found a golf driving range so I stopped off to hit a few balls. It was interesting. At every tee they had a young girl who teed the ball up for you. The tee was a mound of dirt.

There was a golf course near the hotel. I walked over one day to take a look. I peered through the iron fence and watched a golfer tee off. His caddy was a young female dressed in a red jacket with a white scarf over her head. She arranged the clubs mounted on a pull cart.

I enquired about the course at the hotel desk. They said forget it, you can’t afford it. They were right. The golf fee was $150. I guess only rich Japanese played there. $150 is cheap for a round of golf in Japan.

The Boeing contract rep who accompanied us on our trip was Rocky Janasic. Every day we would ask Rocky for any good news about going home. But day after day there was none, so we had to improvise.

Bill Spence sort of figured out train schedules so we took some trips. One trip was south to Puson. We stayed overnight there. The evening we got there we all went to dinner together. Scotty was feeling generous and volunteered to buy the wine. He asked Bill Spence to order the wine because Bill and his wife Maxine took a lot of wine trips to California and knew a lot about wines. The wine that Bill ordered was great. Scotty got a shock when he paid his hotel bill the next morning. The wine bill was $160 for 2 bottles of French wine. Bill had misread the wine menu. The good local wine was $6 a bottle. Scotty took his financial disaster very well and didn’t complain.

Scotty and his friend Ray Pepka decided they couldn’t wait any longer for a free ride home so they bought tickets and left. The rest of us continued to improvise.

We took more trips. We went to Inchon where McArthur landed and went ashore and chased the North Koreans out of South Korea. We went to Panomoncon where the peace treaty was signed and Chunchon where we had difficulty finding someone who spoke English so we could find out where we could eat lunch.

Sandy and Bill Spence and I got to use up a day by test flying the 747 that was the trade in for the new airplane if it ever arrived.

Bill Spence and I got interested in the plows the Koreans were using. It was a one cylinder diesel that had to be hand cranked to start. In a rash moment we bought one. Because Sandy said we could take it home aboard the trade-in 747.

Korean Tractor

One cylinder diesel tractor
We had the plow put in storage at the airport at Ding Dong storage and forgot it for awhile. Then we resumed killing time.

Once a week Fred Diewenitre, the Boeing rep in Korea, got us an invite to a U.S. military club where there was music and dancing. That was a welcome relief.

Finally the new 747 arrived and we had to get the plow aboard the airplane. There was a problem getting it aboard. It barely fit in the rear cargo bend. But we did it. The flight home was uneventful. I’ve forgotten how I got the plow home from Boeing field, but I did, and parked it and its accompanied garden trailer in a shed in my backyard.

The plow could be converted to a tractor and came with a garden cart. So I had fun driving it up and down our street with people in the cart. I hauled wife Ruth, neighbor lady Janet Wainwright, and son Doug at one time or another. Not all at the same time.

I found the plow was difficult to use. It had lots of power, but was difficult to maneuver. I sold my half back to the flight engineer, Bill Spence. I also found it was hard to start in the winter. It was diesel powered and took lots of cranking in the winter.

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