After I got my wings from USAF pilot training, they sent me to Stead AFB, Nevada for survival training, right out side of Reno. I have to say, this was the most miserable 3 weeks of my entire life. After the first week of classroom survival bullshit, we were dropped into 'enemy' territory and were told not to get captured. Yeah, right, nobody's gonna catch my young ass. I'm a jet pilot! Out of 40 of us, I was probably about the 5th one to get caught. (At least I wasn't the first). It's not hard to be brainwashed after you've been locked up in a 3 foot cubic box for 3 hours. The only thing I learned from this was that if I got shot down in the jungle, I'd make damn sure I had one bullet left for myself before Charlie made the scene and gave me an all-expense paid trip to the Hanoi Hilton.
After the POW training, the last week consisted of being dropped in the middle of the Sierra Nevadas with an obsolete, totally inaccurate map with an 'X' on it that said 'You are here!' Another 'X' was marked on the other side of the map and we were told, "We'll pick you up here in a week. Adios, amigos!" We had a compass and a couple cans of 'C' rations that were left over from WWII. We were in groups of 3 and my two compadres were from down town Manhattan. Camping, to them, was something you outgrew after a couple of backyard episodes when you were 8 and it got so scary by 10 PM, you ran in the house and jumped in bed with your parents. Having given up hope to be with someone who could navigate through the mountains, it soon became crystal clear that I was going to have to be the 'guide' here. Being a city boy myself, I had to bear down here and figure something out.
The only people out there were some Basque shepherds who spent 6 months to a year in the mountains tending some rich bastard's sheep and went home rich men. There were no nuts or berries, let alone rabbits or anything else out there to eat because a hundred other trios had preceded us through the area from previous classes. We were told not to have any contact with the Basques since they were very unfriendly. Naturally, this gave me the germ of an idea. Why waste all the good information I had aquired from Gerald Betz and Bessie Carson in regard to speaking the Espan~ol. (How do you get that funny little mark up on top of the 'n'?) The Basques spoke no 'Ingles' but I began to recall things like 'El Burro es un animal.' (The first sentence in 'El Camino Real', our Spanish book.) I'm sure Chuck and Sonny took Latin. What the hell good did that do them? There were no ancient Romans around. After practically nothing to eat but some WWII pemican for 3 days and sitting down to rest after waliking for about 12 hours, soaking our tired feet in a cool mountain stream, we chanced upon one of these Basques at his campsite, across the stream, with a hacksaw, cutting lamb steaks from the side of a carcass getting ready for dinner. Although we'd been instructed not to have anything to do with these people, I gave him a shit-eating grin and waved over at him. To my surprise, he grinned broadly back at me with an enthusiastic wave of his arm. I thought to myself, 'Why didn't I realize the instructor staff was bullshitting us. After a few months with noone but sheep, (I won't expound on that subject) these poor bastartds were so lonely, they'd shake hands with a cobra. Needless to say, watching this guy cutting inch-thick steaks off the side of a dead lamb had our mouths watering and I was trying to remember enough high school Spanish to open a line of communication here with the possibility of a meal resulting. I couldn't think of the word for meal, (comida). All I could think of was ,'dinero' and I knew that meant 'money', something of which we were completely devoid of. I finally thought to try, "Cuando es la hora de la cena?" thinking that meant, " What time's dinner?" I thought he'd never quit laughing as he motioned for us to come over shouting what I thought sounded like "Venga aqui, mi compadres!" or some such jibberish. I think he was laughing at my crucifiction of the Spanbish language but it mattered not to me and my useless buddies from New York. None of us had taken our eyes off those slabs of meat he was cutting. I knew Spanish was not the Basques' native language but, being from northern Spain, I figured they must know it a hell of a lot better than I did. A half hour later, we're sitting around this dude's campfire gnawing on our third lamb steak and washing it down with a fine red Spanish wine, the name of which escapes me but, as I recall, it was 'busy but never precocious' which I wanted to relate to our host but couldn't think of the proper interpretation.
Our host was so enthralled to finally have some company after all his time alone, he directed me how to find his amigo on the other side of the mountain in the direction we were headed. Looking at my map, we figured it would take about all night to get there and we were right. However, the long trek proved to be beneficial as, by about 0830, we were gathered around his campfire scarfing down fried eggs and lamb chops. One of my dunderhead brethren from the Great White Way said to me, "Hey, Ken, this is cheating. We're not supposed to be doing it this way." I told him, "That's very honorable of you. Why don't you let us have your share so you can feel honest and get your integrity back intact. This is called survival school for a reason, you idiot! What we're doing here is called 'surviving'. I think we should get an 'A' for the course." He decided to keep 'surviving' with us. Somehow, we found our way to the pick-up point and, after a week in the wilderness, everyone headed for downtown Reno to eat everything in sight. They all wondered why we didn't seem to be very hungry.
Koppers Company lacked a securities lawyer when I was hired in 1966, so I became it. I was sorry I skipped that course in law school, but after hitting the books four hours a night for about 6 months I actually became credible at it. Or at least I knew more than anyone else in the company. The portfolio of the securities lawyer included acquisitions, for which my initial level of expertise equaled that in securities law, namely zero, so I bought a couple of books on that also.
Before I had a chance to open the mergers and acquisitions book the general counsel called me in and told me I would be working with the vice president in charge of acquisitions, and to meet him Sunday night in Utica, New York, with a draft agreement to purchase a sand and gravel company. Those were the days before PCs, but fortunately not before copy machines, so my secretary came in on the weekend to type up my marked up copy of an agreement from the book (change “auto parts” to “sand and gravel”). It is a lot easier being a lawyer than people think.
Unfortunately, the agreement I copied was one of those “all my way” (screw the other side) versions universally popular with lawyers because it justifies a long negotiation as the other side’s lawyer argues it back to some semblance of fairness, after which both can claim hard fought victories. When the VP read it he turned red and started shouting something about overreaching and shyster lawyers. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I gathered he didn’t like it, and spent Monday redrafting the thing to be fair and reasonable, the way you would expect to see it after several lawyers had spent 3 days negotiating it. The next day the seller’s lawyer looked it over, seemed slightly disappointed or maybe surprised, made a couple of suggestions which we incorporated, and the parties spent the rest of the time talking about the price.
It occurred to me that I had been privileged to learn a secret denied most lawyers, and from then on, through 40 or so acquisitions, that is the way it went. It didn’t matter if the opposing lawyer was of like mind, since while it is easy to argue an unfair draft back to fair, it is almost impossible to argue a fair draft back to unfair. Try, and your client looks at you funny.
The approach bore fruit in an unexpected way. Four years later I was in Louisville
to negotiate another deal and the wise old lawyer for the seller looked at my
draft, then at me, and asked if he could introduce me to the CEO of the life
company he represented. Seems he had decided I was the kind of lawyer he wanted
to be associated with. The rest of my acquisitions were of life insurance companies,
but it worked the same way.
My dad wanted to be an Army Air Corps pilot but it didn't work out. It was my fault. You see, in those days, you had to be single to get your wings in the Air Corps (he still called it that all the while I was a USAF pilot. I'd say, Air Force, Dad, not Air Corps. He'd say, what's the difference? It's all the same.) Dad was single but he'd been fooling around with a honky girl from Roundup, MT. fifty miles north of Billings where I was born. I love this story but, of course, I was never aware of it until after my mother died. Evidently, they hadn't been practicing what, in this day and age, we call, 'safe sex'. Well, you can guess what happened. Along came Jones, who they named after my dad. Instead of skippin' town and joining the Army, he did the honorable thing and married her. My granddad was NOT happy. I thank my lucky stars, I'd have ended up with black lung in a Roundup coal mine with the rest of her dysfunctional family and no daddy. Either that or maybe a serial murderer. Of all the stories my dad told over the years this is my favorite. He told me over a few martinis one night a couple years before he died in Feb. 2004. I laughed till I cried. I must say, though, that I bear a tinge of guilt for keeping him from his dream but he got to fly anyway thanks to Earl Hale whose name I'm sure you recall. I think Coop and my dad had some pretty good times together on their trips. I sure as hell hope so. He always liked to fly with Coop.
Above is a picture of Marilyn and me after my last trip at my retirement ceremony.
Marilyn hates this photo because she'd been up all night. I took her with me
on my last flight. The trip was from Narita, Japan to Honolulu in a 747-200.
It was an emotional event for me. The flight was on
New Years Day of 1998. It was a red-eye, and I know I was tired. Marilyn was
on the flight, and in the middle of the night, the flight attendant brought
her up to the cockpit to show her how hard I was working. At that time, I had
reclined my seat fully back, had my feet up on the foot bar under the instrument
panel and, after instructing my copilot to be alert and not to touch anything
he didn't know anything about, proceeded to check for any holes in my eyelids.
So, I was only semi-conscious as she came into the cockpit. As a matter of fact,
the flight attendant snapped this picture, just in case she ever had reason
to blackmail me. This, of course is a violation of the F.A.R.s but it is my
contention that a 15 to 20 minute nap in the middle of a long red-eye has a
very beneficial advantage resulting in an alert, rested pilot at the end of
the flight when things get busy, especially at a busy airport with bad weather.
(Is there any other kind?) You're really not sleeping but, of course, the passengers
are not overflowing with a feeling of confidence that they're in good hands
if the pilot is grabbing some Z's while airborne.
Before this gets too long, I'm going to do a "To Be Cont'd" like they always did in my latest Captain Marvel comic book and I had to wait a whole month to see the outcome. I'm attaching a picture of my dad that I think was taken by Coop although I'm not sure. It seems to me I remember him telling me that. I'm sure they got some good ones of the stewardess, too, at least I hope so. Also attached is an article I was asked to write for his obit in the RNPA magazine, "Contrails", when he 'flew west' I thought you might enjoy.
K. A. LINVILLE DEC. 22, 1915---FEB. 8, 2004 by K. D. Linville
I guess I'll start this by saying that my dad, in my humble, purely biased, opinion was a damn tough act to follow. In his later years, his favorite subject was flying through the Rockies from SEA to BIL and back in a DC-3 with Earl Hale, Bob Polhamus (the senior one, of course), Rudy Helm, etc., etc. on the "Vomit Comet" staying down out of the ice, below the mountain tops, flying the A's and N's on the range stations. My friend, the younger Bob Polhamus, always refers to us pilots' sons as "must-hires". Maybe he's right. After me, they didn't hire another pilot's son for almost 30 years. (What does that tell you?)
My dad grew up in Billings, MT playing ball, (he was signed by the Pacific Coast League San Francisco Seals in 1934), and building model airplanes. He had wanted to fly airplanes ever since the first time he ever saw one. He always wanted to be an Army Air Corps pilot but, in those days, you had to be single to qualify. He was married with a kid, (guess who), so he wasn't eligible. Even as WWII got into full swing, they weren't drafting guys with kids, so he and Eddy Bolton, another NWA pilot, bought an old cloth-covered airplane, (I don't recall what it was), and he sold my mother's furniture to buy some lessons. He was hired by NWA in 1943 by Earl Hale, as a link operator since he didn't have enough time for a commercial license yet. Earl was an old barnstormer who had played ball with my dad and they had become friends. If he wasn't one of the original NWA pilots, he was awfully close to it. When Dad got his license and got on the seniority list, Earl took him under his wing and taught him everything he knew about commercial flying on those flights through the mountains in the DC-3's. Among the many stories my dad tells of those days, (and there are hundreds) I must relate my favorite (and also one of the more brief). It's a good illustration of the power that those old captains wielded in those days. Ken was a brand new copilot in SEA and was scheduled to go to Billings one winter night in 1944 on one of his first flights with Earl. As he was heading out the door in his shiny new uniform, (they flew out of Boeing Field in those days,) the phone rang. It was the dispatcher, (Bob Pilcher, I think), and he was calling to inform Dad that, due to bad weather, the flight had been cancelled but he hadn't been able to inform the captain yet because he was enroute to the airport. About a half hour later, the phone rang again. This time it was Captain Earl Hale. He asked my dad in a less-than-friendly tone, "Where the hell are you?" After hearing what had happened, Earl proclaimed, "Nobody cancels my flight! If I want my flight cancelled, I'll cancel it! Get your suit on and get your ass out to the field. We're going to Billings tonight." And he did and they did. I don't think I had ever seen my dad move that fast.
Over the next 31 years he flew DC-3's, '4's, '6's, '7's, and '8's, Stratocruisers, B-720's, B-320's and his favorite, the 747's. He even checked out in the 727 and flew it out of MSP for a short time. I can remember him always complaining about MSP "stealing" all the good flying out of Seattle causing him to get bumped back down to copilot so he decided to "follow the flying" for a change. (That must be where I learned to whine so well.) He didn't care much for the midwest and went back to SEA as soon as he could hold captain out there. He spent many years as one of Roman Justiss' check pilots. I guess if Roman liked you, you had to be some kind of "special super jet pilot". I remember all of us hired in the 60's were pretty terrified of him. The highlight of my dad's colorful career was when Roman assigned him to fly President Park of South Korea all around Southeast Asia during the Viet Nam war on a special charter awarded to Northwest Airlines by the State Dept. When my dad asked Roman, "Why me?", he replied, "'Cause you're the best damn pilot I've got, that's why!" (I don't think you were supposed to argue with Roman.) His copilot was Travis Everett and his 2nd officer was Dennis Johnson. The story goes that when Mr. Nyrop was contacted and asked to accept this charter, he declined the offer reasoning that he could make a lot more money with this airplane by keeping it in service on his Pacific routes. The next day, Mr. Nyrop received another call from someone higher up. He was told in so many words that he would accept this charter if he wanted to continue receiving lucrative route awards and government charter flights in the future.
I certainly can't attest to the absolute accuracy of the afore-mentioned anecdotes but they do make interesting stories. As most stories go, they may have gotten slightly exaggerated through the years. I could write a book on his many experiences but I think that's enough for this article. As almost all of us agree, my dad felt that he was the luckiest man alive to have had "the best job in the world". It was especially thrilling for me to have been able to fly in the same seat he sat in over 20 years later in ships 601, 603, and 608 out of HNL. My dad and I got to fly together a few times out of HNL back in '69 and '70 when I was a 2nd officer. We had a very serious engine fire once (#4 engine on ship 376) on take-off just past V1, taking off for Kwajalein Atoll on the coral run at full gross weight. Wally Prine was the first officer and we were getting an enroute FAA inspection. (I know, I promised no more stories). Obviously, everything came out OK.
When I received the call on Feb. 8th, the day my dad died, that he was in the hospital with a massive cerebral hemorrhage, I was in HNL. (My dad brought me to HNL on one of his trips on a Stratocruiser in 1952. I was 14 years old and vowed to myself that I would someday, somehow live in these beautiful islands). The company was very helpful in getting me to SEA on a 2E pass. My brother, who is presently a USN surgeon, was in San Diego. My dad was still alive when we both arrived in Seattle at about the same time and proceeded directly to the hospital. Although he was unconscious, he somehow seemed to know that we had arrived because he let go shortly after we got there. We had to wonder, what's that all about?
Some of you have lost a good friend; I've lost my dad, my mentor, my hero.
But, being such a proud man, it was his time. He didn't care much for being
an old man, (who among us does?) He was always so damn good at everything he
did and that wasn't the case any more as he moved into his 80's. Where ever
he may be "Out West" somewhere, it's for the best. I don't think I
could ever fill those shoes of his. I guess I was pretty lucky, too.
Young rock groups are generally the first act for much bigger Stars, and they don't usually know how to get a lot of stuff on their"rider" (the contract) so they are at a disadvantage, plus being stoned out of their minds doesn't help! And get this, they all want "health food"! One night I was at the Moore Theater doing, I think it was Kenny G. I had taken a small dressing room right behind the back curtain, for my kitchen. I've got everything going great guns, when I blow all the lights for the dressing rooms up stairs and back stage. Everything but this one small room! This means that upstairs are a lot of stoned rockers in the dark (some might say they were in the dark before the lights went out), who now are groping the're way down stairs to my small room, shinning like a beacon for all! The first one to arrive starts wondering around my little room, muttering some unknown language at me. I'm madly trying to get my stuff out of their way, it's their show after all! The back stage crew is trying to help me and get the lights back on, they point to a plug-in up on the wall, WAY up on the wall, maybe thirty feet, up the wall! I stand there holding the plug to the portable oven, looking up, someone brings a ladder, now I'm looking at the crew, you beta some fool thought I should just scamper right up there and plug in my stove! I have other things to do, I hand off the plug and try to finish clearing the little room, but the stoned rocker is still there, still in my face muttering at me, we do a little dance while I'm trying to get out of there. At last help arrives in the form of another rocker, he sizes up the situation, and says. to me, I'll just talk to him in his own language, he then shouts in English, at the top of voice, "Get out of the lady's way!" The show went on, everyone got something to eat, all's well that ends well!
I too was in the Air Force but not all airman are pilots. But I enjoyed the
story of pilot training. I have a lot of respect for those dudes. I get sick
on roller coasters. But I did get my one shot at being a jet pilot. Early one
morning I reported to work at the Emergency room. I was told to put on a flight
jacket and report to hanger two. I was loaded on a helicopter and all they
said was there were pilots down.
Up in the air they loaded me on a bucket and I was supposed to look for any sign of pilots. It was foggy and windy and cold and the water was murky and muddy. We hadn't gone far and I was freezing to death when I spotted a log in the water. I thought I saw something move. Heroes are not made sometimes being in the right place is all it takes to be considered a hero. When I waved my arms and signaled to stop I heard someone up above cursing and saying, "We checked that this morning we are wasting time." Another guy said if this dummy is wrong---We have to check it!" The pilot lay over the top of the log. Six months later he told me had we gone on he would have been dead. The second pilot had died of the cold and drifted away.
It was a trainer jet and the co-pilot was on his first flight. He rejected too late. They were being led in by radar the vision so bad when suddenly the pilot saw water. He told me they wouldn't tell him who the radar tech was and he spent months in recovery. My gift from him. He came one morning to the Hospital with a flight jacket and stuck his neck out on the line to let me fly in a jet as co-pilot. I vomit at carnival rides. Three states in about fifteen minutes with my eyes closed and dizzy he said you can take the controls. I will talk you through it. I have control as instructor there is nothing you can do that I cannot correct. All I know is that when we landed I threw all up over hanger two. Left the flight jacket behind full of vomit I would love to have as a souvenir. Guys I respect everything you did in the War. I never earned my wings but a lot of Airman cannot say they have been up on a jet. I don't know if he put me on because most of the time my eyes were closed but he said we did the sound barrier thing.
Trust me on this one. Even my children accuse me of making this up. My father
an alcoholic so I never wanted to go home. My second home White Center field
house and often Burien fieldhouse. If they were open I was there. I was Punky
I remember the first of those I met to go on to fame. Don Dorland also came
to the gym often. We would shoot hoops. Not the usual, "Horse", before
the three point line we both liked to shoot the deeper the better. Don went
on the "Fuskies" and played starting guard. Sorry I am a diehard
Coug. Known as a shooting guard I can attest to he was very good from long
One day a bunch of us kids were playing football at the White Center fieldhouse. The Husky freshman team started practice and we had to get off the field by eleven. We were a mixture of whoever showed up that morning. There were kids from West Seattle, White Center even some Garfield kids looking for a game. It was choose up and bare chested tackle. Someone was always breaking something. So skinny I was always a late pick in the choose up game. On this day the coaches had not shown up. The freshman team asked if we wanted to have a little scrimmage. They played out of position and kicked our rear ends. The only play I was involved in was a kick after they had back us up form our forty to inside the ten. My job was to go outside and keep the returned inside. I was alone when I heard someone yell, "Punky" The ball had been dropped and our quarterback was running for his life. The ball hit me on the head and I was alone except for one very fast dude who was after me. I was trying to run out of bounds on the fifty when whistles blew. Everyone else stopped I continued to the endzone. The Huskie coaches were livid. One of the guys they were yelling at was a guy name McElhaney. First name Hugh. Went on to star with the Huskies and play professionally for San Francisco "49's". One of the best running backs in the NFL ever. He was chasing me down the sidelines. I say I made a hundred yard touchdown. Had the whistle not blown I was dead meat.
OK, so I played with Bob Smither. Bob, I am considering you as great even though you didn't recognize me at the 50th reunion. I remember winning the Christmas day tournament and my name misspelled on the plague I tried to buy from the wall at White Center fieldhouse. Senior year we moved to Franklin High. Franklin also had a very good basketball team and one State. One of the player reaching over me for rebounds was Doug Smart. It was a preseason game but he was awesome. I understand this year Brockman finally took the rebounding title from Mr. Smart. It was after that game I was regulated from starter to bench. Sitting on the bench as a senior was no fun. Lucky I stayed long enough that when the won state my name was on some roster. It helped me get a basketball scholarship at Central Washington. Being around good athletes helps.
I joined the Rainier Giants. We played in the local men's semi pro leagues. Renton had a player on their team named Tom Black. He was six nine and it was my job to guard him. I say that I helped him become one of the original Seattle Sonics. I think he scored forty points against us. One day my friend Larry Linville came to my front door. No not that Linville. He had a friend with him his name was Ron Santo. Every day we went to the Rainier playfield and played Home Run. Later Ron went on to play for the Chicago Cubs. He hit over 300 home runs and was a several times golden glove third baseman. Nearly voted into the Hall of Fame. When we played he was a catcher. I tell people I struck out Ron Santo. I don't tell them how many home runs he hit against me. Unknown about Ron is he is also a great golfer. I don't know about scores but he hit a ball a long ways. One day on the fourteenth at Jefferson he hit a ball up and over the hill. The foursome in front of us brought the ball up. A three hundred and twelve yard hole in one.
While at Randolph Air force base I played basketball on the base team. Several of our players were ex-college player two had played at the U. I was playing with plays I had envied. I had to quit the team when they put me on night duty. Ricky Nelson was in the reserves. He came in for shots. Not really an athlete but brave taking shots from us. We all bragged that we gave Ricky his shots. They all look alike bald. I was playing fast pitch softball for a Hospital team when one of our players asked if I could throw a hardball. He needed someone to get him ready for spring training. He was the Pittsburgh Pirates pick to be starting shortstop and needed to get ready. Perez was Puerto Rican, needed military to get his citizenship early. Prado was one of those South American golden gloves but he was hitting .312 in Minor "A" farm club. All ready guaranteed as a starter. Every day hours I pitched to him. One day there was a old man in the stands watching. He was from the Pirates. They had been watching me. I was offered a five hundred dollar signing bonus and five hundred a month if I made one of the minor league teams as a pitcher. On the weekend before we were to go Perez was killed in a one car wreck. I never went to the tryout. Story of my life around greatness never great.