Not having any idea how I was going to make a living, after one year in college, I allowed the Army draft me in 1956. This would give me some time, as I was obligated to serve two years anyway. While serving a year in Korea I started reading flying magazines and soon realized that I might be more suited to make a living flying airplanes than making a living working 9 to 5 in an office five days a week. So I took all the correspondence courses related to flying I could while stationed there. On a R& R to Hong Kong (Korea was a hardship post at that time), I checked with a flight school and considered starting my training there. However, the Army rejected my request to be discharged in Korea, so I had to return to the States for the discharge. I was 21 years old.

Once home, I enrolled at American Flyers, a commercial flying school, in Ft. Worth, and earned a commercial license and instrument rating, the very basic licenses required to be paid for flying airplanes. It took me about three years doing charter flights and flight instructing to reach 1200 hours. As this was in late 50s and early 60s when the airlines had many laid off pilots the result of the introduction of jet aircraft, pilot jobs were scarce. Nevertheless, I was always able to find a pilot job, but I couldn't compete with the more experience laid off pilots from the airlines for the better ones. In 1962 I was just basically a single engine pilot, though I had picked up a multi-engine rating, and a flight and instrument instructor's rating. Pilots with those qualifications were a dime a dozen.



With this in mind, and the 1200 hours needed to upgrade my license, I scraped up the money to go bacl to American Flyers in Ft. Worth, where I had obtained my commercial and instrument rating, and obtained an Airline Transport Rating and a type rating in a DC-3. A "type rating" in an airline type aircraft was a license to fly as pilot in command, or Captain. DC-3s were still in service with local service airlines, so having an Airline Transport Pilot license with a type rating in a DC-3 put me in a much higher class of pilots. This was one of the smarter things I ever did, other that let the Army have me for two years. It set me up for the balance of my career. I was 25 years old.




It worked. I went to California and landed a job with Las Vegas Hacienda Airlines as co-pilot on a DC-3 flying from San Diego to Las Vegas every evening and returning in the morning.  The pay was $750.00 a month, the most money I had ever made. For $27.50 passengers got a deluxe room, a bottle of champagne, a free tote bag, $5.00 in chips plus air fare thrown in.   I was fortunate the captain had been laid off from Flying Tigers Air Line, and he quickly made a professional pilot out of me. I also became very proficient in flying the DC-3. The job only lasted three months as the Civil Aeronautics Board shut the operation down because we were operating as a scheduled airline without a permit to do so. We were just carrying our hotel customers, but that didn't seem to matter to the CAB. Politics. 325 hours on DC3s.



Unemployed, I worked my way up the California coast dropping applications off wherever they would take them. I stopped at Slick Airways in San Francisco at 4 PM on Friday. Everyone had left except the Chief Pilot's secretary. While filling out an application, she answered the phone and told to the caller he was to report to ground school Monday morning. I left the building with her and gave her a couple of bottles of champagne from Hacienda that had been left on board the aircraft.

First thing Monday I was back in that office and she told me the Chief Pilot wanted to see me. He looked at my license and medical and told me to go to room 212 for the DC-6 ground school. Bingo, I had just made it to the big time. Starting pay was $500 a month. Slick was a cargo carrier operating a Navy contract. They also operated Lockheed 1049 Constellations and CL 44s, which were turboprops, and flew overseas.

I checked out on the DC-6 as co-pilot with no trouble at all and began flying from Alameda NAS to Los Angeles, San Diego, and then Dallas NAS. I flew every other leg in the left seat, much the same as I did with Hacienda. I built up a few hundred hours and now considered myself a real airline pilot. Unfortunately, I was laid off just before Christmas. There were no jobs at that time of the year, so I drew unemployment and went skiing. But I had a seniority number with an airline with re-call rights.



In June of 1963, I expected to be recalled to Slick and be based at Norfolk Va. where there was a base at the Naval Air Station. But nothing happened, so I went to New York and interviewed with Overseas National Airways. Remember, now I had some qualifications. They hired me on the spot, and I checked out on their DC-7C. Starting pay was $500 a month. My first trip was from Houston to Oakland, then to Honolulu, where we laid over for a week. I got $10 a day for meals which was more than adequate at that time. Then back to Houston via Las Vegas.

My next trip was from Detroit to Shannon Ireland. After laying over there for three days, we flew to Prestwick, Scotland and laid over, then Amsterdam and laid over, then, back to Shannon and laid over, then to Gander NF and back to Detroit.

When I got back to New York, I had a recall notice from Slick. I went to the chief pilot, telling him of my recall to Slick.and asked if he thought I would have a job through the winter with ONA. He suggested I take the recall. ONA shut the doors one month later. A 100 hours or so on the DC-7C and I was now an International pilot on modern four engine aircraft. All this in a year and a half after getting the ATP rating. I was certainly now in the "heavy metal" class of pilots. I was 26 years old.




So I went back to Slick at Norfolk and checked out on DC-4s and re-qualified on DC-6s. I worked there the next two years flying both aircraft out of Norfolk NAS to all the Navy stations all over the east coast and to Dallas NAS and Lincoln, Nebraska. In the summer of 1965, Slick lost the Quicktrans contract and moved me to San Francisco to check out on Lockheed 1049s. I would be flying military charters to Viet Nam on the 1049s. I went to ground school, but something happened, and I was again laid off. By this time, I had over 3000 hours, 2000 of them in four engine airliners. I was 28 years old.



Needing a job, I hired on with Pacific Air Lines in San Francisco, which flew up and down the West Coast. I checked out in the F-27, a turboprop, and the Martin 404. Starting pay was $460 a month. I flew for them for six months up and down the West Coast. I was sure I didn't want to do that the rest of my life. I would have gone back to Slick had they recalled me. About 400 hours on these aircraft.




While flying for Pacific, I ran into a former Slick pilot and learned Pan American was hiring in San Francisco. Thinking that would be about as good a job as a pilot could ever hope for, I interviewed, took a battery of tests all day long, and was hired. I started with Pan American on January31, 1966. Starting pay was $500. I was 29 years old.

New pilots with Pan Am were trained to be Flight Navigators (2nd Officers) and relief pilots (3rd Officers) on Boeing 707s. Navigators were required on all over water flights, as computerized navigation had not been developed. Navigators navigated by celestial and long range radio signals. Because of a temporary shortage of relief pilots for over eight-hour flights, my class was first trained as relief pilots, or Third Officers. I was checked out in the 707 and went on line two months after being hired. We were fully qualified to make takeoffs and landings on the line. We were required by FAA regulations to have at least three takeoffs and landings every three months.

My first trip was a long one. All the way from San Francisco to Bangkok, Thailand with lay over's in London, Beirut, and Bangkok. I turned around and returned the over same route. The two pilots and flight engineer went on around the world. The trip was eight days for about 60 hours of flying.

In the fall, my class was assigned to navigation school. As I had a lot of spare time on my relief pilots flights, I learned a lot about navigating from the navigators. Navigation school was for three months, but because I had acquired so much knowledge in my six months as a relief pilot, I got through in two months. From then on I flew both as a navigator and or a relief pilot, depending on the trip and the destination. I also did polar navigation (required an endorsement) on non-stops from the West Coast to London. I flew all over the Pacific, including Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia, and Viet Nam.


1967. At the navigators station somewhere over the Pacific.

(Must have bought a new camera in Tokyo)


In the spring of 1968, I won a First Officer's position in New York. Because of the long flights and the use of relief pilots, all Pan American First Officers were type rated on the 707s and 720s. The FAA required one type rated pilot to be in the cockpit at all times. Out of New York, I flew to Central and South America, Europe, and Africa and as far East as Tehran, Iran, and Moscow. About 7,000 hours on 707s.


In 1972 I won a position as a relief pilot on Boeing 747s in San Francisco. This paid about the same as a 707 First Officer and I was able to fly out of San Francisco. For the next two years I flew 747s as a relief pilot.

In 1974 I went back to the 707s as a First Officer in San Francisco until 1976. As the Viet Nam war was over and Pan Am's flying was greatly reduced, Pan Am had to furlough pilots. I was senior enough not be be furloughed.

As the 707s were being fazed out, the best paying position I could get was as a 747 Flight Engineer out of New York. I was licensed as a Flight Engineer and flew 747s in that position for the next two years. First trip was New York to Tokyo. One of the best jobs I ever had.

In 1978, I was able to hold a First Officer's position on 747s at San Francisco. Having been a relief pilot for two years and a flight engineer for two years on 747s, the type rating in a 747 was a cake walk for me. For the next eight years I flew in that position flying all over the world, including too many "round the world" flights in both directions to remember. Total time on 747s was over 10,000 hours.

1986. Getting ready to take my first flight as Captain

In 1986, Pan American sold its Pacific routes to United Air Lines. I was not senior enough to transfer to United with the routes, but I wouldn't have done so anyway. With 750 pilots leaving Pan Am for United that were senior to me, I was able to get a Captain's position in Berlin, Germany on Boeing 737s. I was 49 years old. I flew in that position for about six months. First trip was Berlin to Hamburg, Amsterdam, London, Oslo, and Helsinki with a nice layover. Then return. After the long hauls, this was a real treat. Ten take offs and landings in two days. 400 hours on 737s.


Six months later, I won a Captain's position on Airbus A-300s out of New York. the Airbus A-300 was the first wide body two engine airliner. It carried 225 economy, and 25 first class passengers. I flew in that position for the next five and a half years, mostly to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. First trip was New York to Caracas, Venezuela and Port of Spain, Trinidad. I also flew the A-300 out of Berlin on temporary assignments. On December 4, 1991 Pan American closed the doors and I had just turned 55. After 26 years with Pan American, I was unemployed. 3100 hours on A-300s.



As Pan Am went out of business before I retired, I was unable to get a retirement plaque. I found this one on eBay and altered it. It is what I would have been given had the company not gone out of business. No question Pan American Airways was the best company in the world to work for, and the best flying job a pilot could ever dream of having. Flying for the "WORLD'S MOST EXPERIENCED AIRLINE" was, for me, the top of the profession.




One of my fellow Pan Am A-300 Captains called me up in 1996 and told me about a Captain's position flying A-300s for a Turkish nonsked. Their aircraft were configured for 325 economy passengers. It was just for the summer. This airline flew charters mostly between several major Turkish cities and all the major German cities. They flew tourists and Turkish workers who lived in Germany. As I was about to turn 60 in a few months, I accepted the position. I flew the entire summer with them and was paid $6,000 a month in new $100 bills. No deductions. No paper work. They furnished the hotels and meals. Several times I carried as much as $14,000 in hundred dollar bills to pay landing fees and service charges at airports Holiday did not have credit with, such as Tel Aviv and Amsterdam. I was not required to sign for the money, or get a receipt for it. The third world has its own ways of doing things. The job was over at the end of the summer, and the company went out of business a month later.



Just one of the flight attendance. I used my Pan American uniform while flying for Holiday. I also used my Pan Am ID for the first three weeks before receiving a Holiday ID. I guess no one over there knew Pan Am had been out of business for four and a half years. The stewardesses were paid $300 a month.


All total, I have flown to over 120 cities outside of the U. S. and 80 countries. Total flight time was about 22,000 hours, which included time as a flight navigator, relief pilot, and as a flight engineer. I should add that except while in the Army, I never worked at a 9 to 5 job. With Pan American, because of the FAA flight time limitations, and the long overseas flights, the most days we could fly in a month was 12. And of course, the pay was always very good. "Find a job you love and you will never have to work another day in your life."

I will always be grateful for my time in the Army. It was just what I needed at that time of my live. The decision I made in Korea when I decided to fly airplanes for a living gave me just the goal I needed. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at:

If you are interested in the hotels where we stayed all over the world, go to my web site:

If you would like to see the kind of takeoffs I have made, at least a 1000 times, click:

This flight was either going non stop to Tokyo, or non stop to London.