Chapter 5 – Shuttling the Press

In 1966, the year of riots in the ghettos all over the U.S., various people in the press wanted to visit these locations and see what was going on. Boeing volunteered an airplane to take the press around. They volunteered me as pilot. The airplane was a 737 outfitted as an executive transport including a well stocked bar.

We started out in New York and worked our way west. Among the press was William F Buckley who published his own weekly journal. I remembered him because he was famous.

We visited Chicago and Cleveland amongst others. Cleveland was exciting. I went to the right airport, but the people who went ahead to pave the way did not, so we arrived unexpected.

My co-pilot on this trip was Russ Revel, a retired Air Force pilot. An Air Force pilot could retire at age 40 and still have another career. Many came to work at Boeing and got jobs as instructor pilots. It worked out well for them and Boeing.

Our landing at Cleveland caused some problems. We might have been the first jet to land at the airport and we were a menace to small airplanes. I looked out and one pilot was shaking his fist at me. Russ went out to make peace but I wondered about that. I feared for Russ.

The writers went into town to visit the riots while Russ and I and other crew members got a few drinks from the liquor supply in the airplane.

Our next stop was Chicago. The writers did their thing while Russ and I rested at the hotel. Our stop in Chicago was at Midway Field. It is a little short and on take off required a steep pull up after lift off. Some of the passengers were upset about that. So this trip educated me to how sensitive passengers were to unusual altitudes. Something airline pilots get used to. My background as test pilot would have to be modified if I became an airline pilot.

After Chicago we visited San Francisco and then Los Angeles. The riots in Los Angeles were particularly bad. After Los Angeles we visited Atlanta Georgia, not for riots, but to show the Executive 737 to Coca Cola. I don’t think Coca Cola ever bought an Executive 737. In fact, I don’t think any 737 Executive jets were sold. Greg Norman, the golfer, made an offer but later he decided he couldn’t afford it.

%d bloggers like this: