grew up in an airline family. My father was a pioneering airmail pilot, taking advantage of his World War I flight training to secure a job with the then-new Colonial Western Airways, which eventually melded with what we know today as American Airlines. As a young lad riding on passes with my family, I remember the look on ticket agents’ faces as they noted Dad’s payroll number: 02.
I absolutely owe my love of the industry to him, along with my desire to write; Dad had a great way with words and wrote stories for several publications. I recently discovered the first two chapters of a book he was planning to author but never finished. What I wouldn’t give for a chance to sit down with him today and fill in the missing holes.
To a greater degree, my brother Bill, a retired TWA pilot, and his wife Ann, get most of the credit for encouraging me to pursue my own airline career. Bill loaned me aviation books, paid the extra ajet surcharge” so I could take my first ride in a Boeing 707, and has provided so much support and answers to my endless questions. Many thanks go to him, my best friend.
Although Robert Serling refers to me as his mentor and role model, it really has been the other way around. Bob is a true inspiration to all aviation writers, and always finds time to take my calls and provide sage advice. He readily shares a wealth of knowledge and can be counted on for straightforward responses when acting as a sounding board for my book and story ideas. But above all, he is a treasured friend.
In addition to Bob, I was fortunate enough to meet three of my biggest aviation heroes who are no longer with us: Jimmy Doolittle, C. R. Smith, and Paul Tibbets. Close friendships formed with people in the airline industry are too many to list here, but each has been an inspiration, adding to a wonderful career in aviation.
Finally, special thanks are offered to the co-authors I am so lucky to have as great personal friends.
— Jon Proctor
s with any labor of love, there are many people who helped along the way, and without whom, a project such as this simply would not have been possible. Starting with the “big picture,” my thanks to Donald Wills Douglas for all his great airliners, and to my father for cherished memories of a flight aboard an Eastern DC-7B Golden Falcon, which planted the seed. Coming West from New York to California to work as a young artist for the proud company Mr. Douglas founded was nothing less than the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
I also would not have had the career I enjoy today without the inspiration of my uncle, George Hildebrand. His 32-year career as a chief engineer and program manager with Republic Aviation Corporation served as the ultimate source for my insatiable desire to become part of America’s burgeoning aerospace industry. As a proud designer of military jet fighters, he held airliners in a different regard, but gained new and heartfelt respect for commercial aviation when my budding career at Douglas began to emulate his own.
The man to whom I owe a large debt of gratitude for connecting me with the literary world is R. E.G. Davies, former Curator of Air Transport for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and onetime member of the marketing analysis team at McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach. Ron and I have worked together on 15 airline history books, and he has written many of the definitive reference works on the history of the world’s airline industry. Ironically, many of Davies’ books served as invaluable and ironclad reference sources for this project.
My admiration, respect, and thanks to John Wegg, world’s foremost authority on the magnificent Sud Caravelle, for years of collaboration on many inspirational projects together, and for setting the gold standard in modern airline writing. The late Terry Waddington showed me how pure passion for a product and deep love for the airline industry translated into impressive sales of McDonnell Douglas jetliners. Special thanks to Tony Landis, Dennis Jenkins, and Joshua Stoff. Finally, to my two cohorts, Jon Proctor and Craig Kodera, go heartfelt appreciation for a collaborative effort on this project that has exceeded expectations. I am most grateful to have aviation friends of this caliber.
— Mike Machat
ver the years I have had the uncommon privilege of being associated with the world of aviation and, in particular, that of commercial aviation. My uncle Harry Botterud was maintenance supervisor for Los Angeles Airways in the 1950s; my father spent a lifelong career in the aerospace industry, the last half of which was at Douglas Aircraft in the Commercial Division at Long Beach. I managed to work at Douglas myself after college and prior to joining the Air Force Reserve, thanks to Dad.
Our neighborhood was filled with airline pilots, one of whom was Gary Ferguson of Continental, who bought me my first instructional ride in a Cessna 150 at Meadowlark Airport in Huntington Beach. This led to my licensure to fly airplanes at age 17. My mentor and guide into the life of aviation, Bob Brandt of L. A. Airways (1960s version), introduced me to his old flying buddy, Scott Bergey, who was late of Air California.
Thanks to these two men, I managed to find myself flying at Air Cal, later to be merged with American Airlines, thus fulfilling my long-hoped-for childhood dream. Nine thousand hours of flying time later, here we are.
Meadowlark has since been turned into homes. Douglas is now Boeing, and both Dad and Gary Ferguson have flown west. I no longer inhabit the cockpit of an airplane, but to have witnessed what I have in my lifetime… the grandeur of proud people crafting entire industries for the betterment of all on this planet, and the momentous positive change among its peoples, I am fortunate. To be able to now write about what I have known all my life makes me humble. So my thanks extend to you, our special readers.
And most significantly, thanks of a very special kind to my dearest of friends, the co-authors of this book.
— Craig Kodera