Tag Archives: Learjet

Masters Week: Private Jets Congest Tarmac At Augusta Airports

IMG_0001Sunday at the Masters results in a few billion dollars of corporate Jets parked at the Augusta, Georgia airports. Many of these “corporate tools” will be owned, leased or chartered by men who play golf and earn a large income doing so. Many of them will be owned, leased or chartered by men who enjoy golf, but will became hyper-wealthy the old-fashioned way— that would of course be very lucrative entrepreneurial activity. Some of these people will be referred to as “Banksters.”
The tarmacs at Augusta’s Bush Regional Airport and Daniel field will be congested with aircraft referred to by the corporate pilots as “big iron”. Phil Mickelson, for instance, enjoys his air travel in a Gulfstream V luxury jet that can have a price tag of 40 million dollars; Tiger Woods will be leaving today in his newer model Gulfstream 550, the same one that his ex-wife Elin used to ride in. Currently Lindsey Vonn is a favored passenger. It should be noted that she is “walking-the-ropes” at Augusta National golf course amongst the teaming masses of humanity.
Back to business! These mega-million airplanes are business tools and there are at least 10 other PGA pros that either have their own airplane or engage in the “fractional jet” practice of investing in a small percentage ownership for very restricted use. The wiser choice for most of the golfers is chartering from NetJets, Marquis Jets, and many of the other jet charter operators. Eli Flint of Flight Operations, LLC stated that they have doubled their flights from 2009 and their charters to Augusta for the masters have increased by 50% since 2010. As commercial air travel continues to deteriorate, the use of private Jets will proliferate.
Forty years ago I flew Jack Nicklaus to Augusta for the Masters in a chartered Learjet. In today’s two-tiered economy, if you have to ride around in a Learjet, you are looked upon as “FBO trash.” For nearly a decade of my aviation career I flew the rich and famous and it became very clear to me that if you can afford private jet travel, you will never go to the commercial terminal. Carbon footprint be damned, I’m going to take the jet!
This blog is prepared by aviation author Ace Abbott; http://www.therogueaviator.com, http://www.deadtiredpilots.com, will take you to his books. A visit to http://webtalkradio.net/ will allow you to listen to his aviation talk show.





“Slip slidin’ away,” was the chorus of a Paul Simon hit from the 60s. During this time of year, it is what airplanes frequently do on runways and taxiways. In the winter weather, pilots operating north of about 35° north latitude, particularly near the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, will also be dealing with ice accumulating on their aircraft. They will do what they can to get this ice, “slip-slidin” off of their airplanes as they activate their anti-ice and de-ice devices.  The ice on the runways and taxiways and the airborne ice is a major issue for pilots as both types of ice can lead to crumpled piles of aluminum, along with injuries or death.

A few days ago a Southwest Airlines jet, while taxing for departure at MacArthur Airport on Long Island, went “slip-sliding away.” Although the taxiway was not ice covered it was still dark, and it was raining. As most pilots will attest, taxing large aircraft at night on a slippery surface is extremely challenging. Yesterday a Russian airliner landing in Moscow during a snowstorm departed the runway at a very high speed resulting in four people dead and four injured. The airplane was broken into several pieces and will be headed for the beer can factory. The airplane did not “disintegrate” as the Associated Press article indicated. Disintegration of a large aircraft is only marginally feasible.

Between now, January 30, 2012, and March 31, 2013, several hundred aircraft will go “slip sliding” away” as the pilot loses control of his air machine. In January 1975 I landed a Learjet at Montréal’s Dorval airport. The cold front had just passed through, the runways and taxiways were snow and ice covered, and the wind was at 25 knots gusting to 40. After turning off the runway the aircraft’s heading was then 90° to the direction of the wind. In a split second the airplane turned 90° as it responded to its aerodynamic inclination and weather-vaned directly into the wind. Later in my career, after landing an Emery Airfreight Boeing 727 at Dayton, Ohio I experienced the exact same encounter. Freezing rain had created a glaze of ice and the braking action was “nihil,” rather than poor, as the tower was reporting.

Landing a large jet aircraft, for that matter, any aircraft during reduced visibility, such as in a snowstorm, with gusty crosswinds, and on ice covered runway at LaGuardia Airport is probably more challenging than landing in the Hudson River on a nice day. Even Sully Sullenberger would likely agree with this premise. Winter weather aviation operations require extremes diligence, awareness, and skill. Proper use of airborne de-ice and anti-ice procedures should be reviewed by all pilots. If your air machine has been deiced prior to takeoff, it is prudent to be 100% sure that there is no ice or snow adhering to any of the control surfaces prior to takeoff. Far too many aircraft and passengers have come to a sad end in an aircraft that was not properly deiced.

Quite interestingly, we will note that the rest of Paul Simon’s chorus lyrics are as follows: “slip slidin’ away, the near you get to the destination, the more you are slip slidin’ away.”  May all your aviation experiences be devoid  of any, “slip slidin’away.”

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/a.k.a. Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator: In the Back Alleys of Aviation (www.therogueaviator.com)  and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue- Aviation’s Insidious Killer (www.deadtiredpilots.com)




Last Sunday morning’s crash of a Learjet with renowned singer Jenni Rivera aboard recently jumped into the forefront of the news cycle. The aircraft departed Monterrey, Mexico at 3:15 AM en route to Toluca, Mexico. It was reported the aircraft was it 35,000 feet and made a rapid descent to 9,000 feet, during which time air traffic control communication was lost. At 3:30 AM the aircraft slammed into the high terrain South of Monterrey. All seven people aboard were killed, including the two pilots. The Learjet was chartered from a Las Vegas based company.

The media have not yet discussed or even mentioned the likelihood of tired pilots in the cockpit. It will be very interesting to read the final NTSB report that will hopefully have a report of the two pilots most recent rest period prior to the flight. Based on my experience of eight years flying chartered Learjets I would be near certain that pilot fatigue played a major role in this accident. The world of on-demand jet charter lends itself to frequent scenarios that result in severely fatigued pilots flying high profile wealthy people. A 3:15 AM departure would require the pilots to have been awake since no later than 1:30 AM. It is likely and almost certain that they were prepared for departure several hours prior to the actual departure. On-demand jet charter is fraught with significant delays. It is not likely that anyone would schedule a flight departure for 3:15 AM.

Also relating to pilot fatigue, the FAA has just determined that the lawsuit filed by UPS cargo pilot union, IPA has no merit. This lawsuit was in reference to the revised crew rest, flight time and duty limitations that are to be implemented on January 15, 2014. These new rules were mandated to enhance aviation safety after the crash of Continental flight 3407 (operated by Colgan air) in Buffalo on January 12 2009. These revised rules for commercial pilots operating in the FAR 121 airline environments were mandated by Congress. As a result of lobbying and special interest groups influence all cargo airline operations were exempt from these new rules— effectively an exemption from operating at a much higher level of safety. As I stated in my book, The Rogue Aviator, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you— unless you are a pilot who might want to get a little sleep.”

The media has barely scratched the surface of this onerous failure to reduce the pilot fatigue factor in cargo airline aircraft. My book, Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue- Aviation’s Insidious Killer, elaborates on the subject as it points out the obvious; if allowed, corporate profits will always trump any element of safety that might be implemented. Unbeknownst to most laymen, the power of airline unions has been a significant contributor to aviation safety. A review of aircraft accidents operated by nonunion pilots will validate this. The exemption of cargo pilots from reasonable work rules that result in minimizing pilot fatigue in the cockpit will reveal a continuation of aircraft crashes and incidents that were piloted by very tired pilots.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris, a.k.a. Ace Abbott (pen name), author of The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation, (www.therogueaviator.com or http://goo.gl/Y2LhX, and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue Aviation’s Insidious Killer (www.deadtiredpilots.com or http://goo.gl/Gzucw.



Of the many implausible and radical encounters during my aviation career, smoking a little ganja (by default—residual smoke) with Bob Marley was one of the most memorable. The “bad guys” had just tried to kill him and his family, friends, and colleagues because they did not like his politics. I was summoned to smuggle him and his entourage out of Kingston, Jamaica, where his longevity was in severe jeopardy. Nine passengers were stuffed into the Learjet as we headed for Nassau, where a large and enthusiastic crowd of reggae devotees were awaiting his arrival.

Shortly after lift-off, the cabin—and the cockpit—were inundated with the sweet smell of burning marijuana leaves. Bob had been a little stressed from his intensity-filled free-concert along with the attempted assassination he experienced, so he used the very popular Rastafarian sacrament of “ganja” to enhance the relaxation factor. Most of his fellow passengers joined him for one of those Jamaican delicacies referred to as a “big spliff.” As the smell of the marijuana intensified, my co-pilot started singing “every little thing is going to be all right.” At that point the fog of residual smoke was so strong that we donned the oxygen masks.

The legalization of marijuana is working its way forward to become a front-and-center issue in the United States. Even Paul Ryan, the very conservative VP candidate recently issued a statement that he advocated legalizing medicinal marijuana. The statement was soon rebuffed by the RNC—they said Ryan was a little confused.  Perhaps, in a private policy meeting they later asked “What was he smoking?”  Most of the European countries have already seen the failure of putting people in jail for what they put in their body and have addressed the problem pragmatically.

If we decriminalize marijuana, will pilots be flying us  in their jets a little “higher” than their actual altitude?  The answer is no. Alcohol abuse is much more prevalent in the pilot community than is use of marijuana. While there may be a few pilots who occasionally toke on the controversial weed, they represent probably less than one percent of professional pilots. Those pilots that do occasionally indulge will keep their indulgence many hours or, preferably days, (the stoned state does have a lingering effect) from the cockpit. In the late 60s and early 70s the use of marijuana was much more prevalent with the young pilots than it is today.

The mandatory random drug tests administered to flight crews has had a very beneficial result in keeping impaired pilots out of the cockpit. It is now more important to focus on the tired pilots in the cockpit. My recent released book, Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue-Aviation’s Insidious Killer addresses this issue (www.deadtiredpilots.com). For more details about the Bob Marley adventure, please refer to The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation (www.therogueaviator.com).

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/aka Ace Abbott, a retired commercial pilot/aviation author.



Once again, the pilot fatigue factor has reared up its ugly head in the revelation of an Air Canada incident over one year ago that involved a tired pilot engaging in action that put his aircraft as well as others in danger. The following is an extract from an article in the April 16, 2012 CBC News:

{{A terrifying incident on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Zurich last year took place because a pilot abruptly pushed the Boeing 767 into a dive shortly after waking up from an approved nap, says a report released today by Canada’s Transportation Safety Board.

The report details what happened on Air Canada Flight 878 several hours after it left Toronto for Zurich on Jan 13, 2011. The report also finds several factors, including pilot fatigue, contributed to the incident that sent seven passengers to hospital in Switzerland.The disruption in the middle of the flight, at night over the Atlantic Ocean, was described by Air Canada at the time as severe turbulence.

Instead, the TSB report says the first officer, who had just woken up from a nap in the cockpit, initially mistook the planet Venus for a U.S. air force C-17 military plane in the vicinity, and later decreased altitude abruptly after being “confused” and believing they were on an “imminent collision course” with another aircraft.

The captain counter-reacted by pulling the plane up. The moves shook the aircraft violently and caused several passengers not wearing their seatbelts in economy class to be thrown up in the air and then slammed into their seats and the aisles of the cabin.

Fourteen passengers and two crew members on board the flight suffered various injuries, and seven were sent to hospital after the plane touched down in Zurich.

Pilots are allowed to take “controlled rests” of up to 40 minutes in the cockpit to improve alertness during critical phases of flight, the TSB says. However, the flight attendant in charge must be alerted and instructed to call the flight deck at a specific time.

The TSB report into Flight 878 said the pilots did not inform the assigned flight attendant that the first officer was going to take a rest.

Canada’s pilot fatigue measures questioned

The report is expected to renew the debate over whether Canada’s regulations governing pilot schedules do enough to prevent pilot fatigue.

Controlled rests

A “controlled rest” is a recommended “operational fatigue countermeasure” for pilots that improves on-the-job performance and alertness through “strategic napping” on the flight deck “to improve crew alertness during critical phases of flight,” according to the Air Canada flight operations manual.

“The rest periods are a maximum of 40 minutes in length (periods to be reviewed prior to resting) and must be completed 30 minutes prior to the top of descent. The in–charge flight attendant must be advised that controlled rest will be taking place and instructed to call the flight deck at a specific time. Upon conclusion of the rest period, unless required due to an abnormal or emergency situation, the awakened pilot should be provided at least 15 minutes without any flight duties to become fully awake before resuming normal duties. An operational briefing shall follow.” Source: Transportation Safety Board

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News that the airline has already taken action to enhance safety in the wake of its preliminary findings, and would study the final report to determine whether additional measures can be brought in.

“We sincerely regret that some of our customers were injured and we have taken measures to prevent a reoccurrence of this type of event and improve safety overall,” Fitzpatrick wrote in an email.

The Air Canada Pilots Association and other unions, representing almost 7,000 pilots, have been calling for Transport Canada to change flight and pilot scheduling regulations.

Under Canadian regulations, pilots can be on duty for 14 hours, or up to 17 hours if there are unforeseen circumstances.

Capt. Barry Wiszniowski, safety chairman of the Air Canada Pilots Association, told CBC News Network that his organization began collecting its own data on pilot fatigue several years ago as part of a public push to get the regulations changed to recognize scientific findings on fatigue.

“I think the problem is that he’s sleeping in the cockpit in the first place,” Wiszniowski said.

“In Canada, we have the worst rules in the planet. We are working with the regulator trying to move forward and bringing our regulations in line so they are based on the science of fatigue.”

3rd pilot in cabin

The TSB report also revealed that a third Air Canada pilot was on board “dead-heading” to Zurich to serve as a relief pilot for the return flight, but was seated in a regular seat so he wouldn’t be paid.

After the captain was informed of the injuries in the cabin, the third pilot was called in to sit on the flight deck to monitor the flight and assist as needed, the report said. The remainder of the flight was described as “uneventful.”

In December, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued new rules aimed at preventing airline pilots from flying while dangerously fatigued.

U.S. airlines flying routes of similar duration to the Toronto-Zurich flight require three pilots on duty, Wiszniowski noted.

“I believe personally that safety trumps politics, commerce and competition, so if you’re doing it on a cost-dollar value, that’s one thing,” he said. “But what more proof do we need that when a pilot operates in a fatigued state there’s risk of an accident? And that’s what we have in this case.”

Air Canada’s Fitzpatrick said the airline has rules for duty days and rest periods that are “more conservative than what Transport Canada requires,” and also requires pilots who feel they are too tired to fly or otherwise not capable of flying safely to report this as part of a “non-punitive system.”]]

The concept of controlled naps in the cockpit is a recent brerakthrough that has been endorsed by most of the European and long-range Flag-Carrier airlines. It is a well-thought out, progressive approach to enance aviation safety. This Air Canada incident was fraught with a bit of an unusual twist, in that the sleeping pilot had been sleeping to long. The “power nap” is effective if it does not exceed 45 minutes. Recent sleep study research has shown light on the importance of shorter naps to recharge the batteries This pilot had been sleeping for 70 minutes and when he rapidly awoke he did not have time to erase the “cobwebs.” Since he was still in the groggy state he misperceived the situation and took evasive action to avoid what he thought was another aircraft, but was actually the planet Venus.

This was not the first time nor will it be the last time that a pilot took evasive action to avoid a heavenly body that had been mis-identified. One of the millions of legendary aviation anecdotes involves a Learjet pilot at about 3:00 am over the Gulf of Mexico. As he broke out of heavy clouds the full moon at 12:00 o’clock high startled him and as the story goes, he immediately did a full barrell roll to avoid the moon.

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation (www.therogueaviator.com)


The Learjet, a Great Cash-hauling 'Capitalist Tool."



Of the many areas for the political pundit “talking heads” to capitalize on, it looks as if Mitt Romney’s few hundred million U.S. dollars in the Grand Cayman banks are of major concern. Although the international banking commuity has made it a bit more difficult for the “one percenters” to hide their mega-millions in off-shore banking accounts, there are still loopholes to be capitalized on. Since I hauled at least 10 million dollars of cash in the chartered Learjet to Grand Cayman for opportunistic entrepreneurs I was compelled to include a mention of such in my book.

The following is an excerpt from page 84 of The Rogue Aviator:

{The big-money flights did not always center on the boys, as there were many legitimate businessmen who despised the idea of paying taxes and, instead, shuffled their monies out of the country into offshore accounts. Many flights to Grand Cayman were flown with the baggage compartment stuffed with large suitcases filled with cash. It was particularly interesting to observe the nonchalant fashion of the airport authorities at Grand Cayman as they opened the suitcases, observed the many millions of dollars, and very expeditiously processed the entry forms for the wealthy tax evader. Grand Cayman was a popular scuba diving resort, but offshore banking was the crux of its economy, and the massive quantities of cash were readily welcomed. The locals enjoyed a relatively high level of economic security and a very comfortable lifestyle. Money laundering is good work if you can get it! Ace and his flying companions often got wind of reports of famous and prominent aviation entrepreneurs who took their company to bankruptcy and were later seen taking private jets to Grand Cayman. The U.S. dollars that have been illegally deposited in offshore accounts in the last four decades would pay off the national debt and provide the American citizenry with free medical and dental care for many years.}

This blog was prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator (www.therogueaviator.com)

The Learjet, a Great Cash-hauling "Capitalist Tool."


The Legendary Learjet

The Rogue Aviator: in the Back Alleys of Aviation will leave the reader aghast at the rocky-road roller-coaster-like ride that Ace Abbott experienced as he bounced from one job to another. There is, however, a challenger for the most unstable, radical aviation career. Interestingly, that possible title could go to the son of one of the legendary icons of aviation, Bill Lear. Bill Lear was an adventuresome inventor who pioneered the development of listening to music on tape with the old “eight track” cassettes. His more renowned invention is the first private jet that became a household name, and that, of course, was the Learjet.  From around 1968 until the mid-1980s the Learjet was to private jets as Kleenex was to bathroom tissue. If you lived in the Hamptons your country  club colleagues would ask if you were going to take your Learjet to the Palm Beaches even though your jet might be in actuality, a Cessna  Citation (often referred to as a “near-jet” by the Learjet pilots because  it was so slow). The son of Bill Lear had a leg up on an aviation career as his Dad had an iconic stature in the aviation world. Now for the rest of the story—that would be the trials and tribulations of John Lear’s  remarkable aviation experiences:

John Lear gave this talk on July 9th, 2004 to a group of fellow pilots in Las Vegas at the “Hangar of Quiet Birdmen” or QB meeting. Each month one pilot in the group gives a 15 minute talk on his career.
John Lear on John Lear:

One of the anguishes of advancing age is losing old friends. The upside of that, though, is that I get to tell the story my way because there is nobody still around to say otherwise.

I learned to fly at Clover Field in Santa Monica when I was 14. However before I got to get in an actual airplane Dad made me take 40 hours of Link with Charlie Gress. I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I guarantee you I could still shoot a 90 degree, Fade-out or Parallel  radio range orientation.

When I turned 16 I had endorsements on my student license for an Aero Commander 680E and Cessna 310.

I got my private at 17 and instrument rating shortly thereafter. The Lockheed 18 Lodestar was my first type rating at age 18. I went to work for my father and brother flying copilot on a twin beech out of Geneva Switzerland after I got out of high school. Dad was over there trying to peddle radios to the European airlines.

However just after I turned 18 and got my Commercial I was showing off my aerobatic talents in a Bucker Jungmann to my friends at a Swiss boarding school I had attended. I managed to start a 3 turn spin from too low an altitude and crashed. I shattered both heels and ankles and broke both legs in 3 places. I crushed my neck, broke both sides of my jaw and lost all of my front teeth. I managed to get gangrene in one of the open wounds in my ankles and was shipped from Switzerland to the Lovelace Clinic  in Albuquerque where Randy Lovelace made me well.

When I could walk again I worked selling pots and pans door to door in Santa Monica. In late 1962 Dad had moved from Switzerland to Wichita to build the Lear Jet and I went to Wichita to begin work in Public  relations until November of 1963 about 2 months after the first flight when I move to Miami and took over editing an aviation newspaper called Aero News. I moved the newspaper to El Segundo in California and ran it until it failed. I then got a job flight instructing at Progressive Air Service in Hawthorne, California. From there I went to Norman Larson Beechcraft in Van Nuys flight instructing in Ercoupes.

In the spring of 1965 I was invited by my Dad back to Wichita to get type rated in the model 23 Learjet. I then went to work for the executive aircraft division of Flying Tigers in Burbank who had secured a dealership for the Lear.

In November of 1965 my boss Paul Kelly crashed number 63 into the mountains at Palm Springs killing everybody on board including Bob Prescotts 13 years old son and 4 of the major investors in Tigers. I took over his job as President of Airjet charters a wholly owned subsidiary of FTL and flew charters and sold Lears. Or rather tried to sell them. It turns out that I never managed to sell one Learjet in my entire life.

In March of 1966 2 Lear factory pilots Hank Beaird, Rick King and myself set 17 world speed records including speed around the round the world, 65
hours and 38 minutes in the first Lear Jet 24. Shortly after that flight I got canned from Tigers and moved to Vegas and started the first 3rd level airline in Nevada, Ambassador Airlines. We operated an Aero Commander and Cherokee 6 on 5 stops from Las Vegas to LAX. This was about the timeHoward Hughes moved to Las Vegas and I was doing some consulting work forBob and Peter Maheu.

The money man behind Ambassador was Jack Cleveland who I introduced to John Myers in the Hughes organization. Cleveland and Myers tried to peddle the 135 certificate to Hughes without success and Jack ended up selling Howard those phony gold mining claims you all may remember. I went back to Van Nuys and was flying Lear charter part time for Al Paulson and  Clay Lacy at California Airmotive, the Learjet distributor.

That summer I started a business called Aerospace Flight Research in Van Nuys were I rented aircraft to Teledyne to flight test their Inertial Guidance Systems. We had a B-26, Super Pinto and Twin Beech. I think we lasted about 4 months.

I then went to work for World Aviation Services in Ft. Lauderdale ferrying the Cessna O2 FAC airplanes from Wichita, fresh of the assembly line toNha Trang in Viet Nam with fellow QB Bill Werstlein. We were under  the 4440th ADG Langley VA. and hooked up with a lot of other military pilots ferrying all manner and types of aircraft.

Our route was Wichita to Hamilton, Hickam, Midway, Wake, Guam, Clark and then in country. The longest leg was Hamilton to Hickam an average of 16 hours, no autopilot, no copilot, and one ADF. We also had 3 piddle packs.
Arriving in Nha Trang we would hitch a ride to Saigon and spend 3 days under technical house arrest, each trip, pay a fine for entering the country illegally, that is being civilians and not coming through a port of entry, catch an airline up to Hong Kong for a little R and R and straight back to Wichita for another airplane. I flew this contract for years.
During some off time in 1968 I attempted to ferry a Cessna 320 from Oakland to Australia with the first stop in Honolulu. About 2 hours out from Oakland I lost the right engine and had no provisions for dumping fuel. I went down into ground effect (T effect for you purists) and for 3 hours and 21 minutes flew on one engine about 25 feet above the waves and made it into Hamilton AFB after flying under the Golden Gate and Richmond bridges. An old friend Nick Conte, was officer of the day and gave me the royal treatment. Why did I go into Hamilton instead of Oakland? I knew exactly where the O club was for some much needed refreshment.
In September of 1968 between 0-2 deliveries I raced a Douglas B-26 Invader in the Reno Air Races. It was the largest airplane ever raced at Reno, and I placed 5th in the Bronze passing one Mustang . It was reported to me after the race by XB-70 project pilot Col. Ted Sturmthal that when I passed the P-51, 3 fighter pilots from Nellis committed suicide off the back of the grandstands. In the summer of 1970 I helped Darryl Greenamyer and Adam Robbins put on the California 1000 air race in Mojave, California. That’s the one where Clay Lacy raced the DC-7. I flew a B-26with Wally McDonald.
I then started flying charter in an Aero Commander and Beech Queen Air for Aero Council a charter service out of Burbank. They went belly up about 3 months later and I went up to Reno to work for my Dad as safety pilot on his Lear model 25. After my Dad fired me I was personally escorted to the Nevada/California border by an ex-Los Angeles police detective who worked for Dad and did the muscle work.
I went back down to Van Nuys and was Chief Pilot for Lacy Aviation and was one of the first pilot proficiency examiners for the Lear Jet. In the summer of 1973 I moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia as Chief Pilot and Director of Operations for Tri Nine Airlines which flew routes throughout  Cambodia for Khmer Akas Air.
I flew a Convair 440 an average of 130 hours a month. We had unlimited quantities of 115/145 fuel and ADI and were able to use full CB-17 power (which was 62″ for any of you R-2800 aficionados). In November of 1973 I moved to Vientianne, Laos and flew C-46’s and Twin Otters for Continental Air Services Inc. delivering guns and ammo to the Gen. Vang Pao and hisCIA supported troops.
We got shot down one day and when I say we, Dave Kouba was the captain. We were flying a twin otter and got the right engine shot out. Actually the small arms fire had hit the fuel line in the right strut and fuel       was streaming out back around the tail and being sucked into the large cargo opening in the side of the airplane and filling the cockpit with a fine mist of jet fuel.
I held the mike in my hands, “Should I call Cricket and possibly blow us up or…?” (Some of you may remember “Cricket”…       “This is Cricket on guard with an air strike warning to all aircraft”.) But Davy found us a friendly dirt strip and we were back in the air the next day. When the war came to an end in 1973 I moved back to Van Nuys and started flying Lears for Lacy again until October when I went up to Seattle and sat in on a Boeing 707 ground school for Air Club International on spec.
3 weeks later I ended up in the left seat of the 707 with a total of 8 hours in type. Air Club begat Aero America and we flew junkets out of Vegas for the Tropicana and Thunderbird Hotels. I left Aero having not been fired and in the summer of 1975 I was Director of Ops for Ambassador Airlines flying 707 junkets also out of Vegas.

After that airline collapsed I moved to Beirut, Lebanon in September of 1975 and flew 707’s for 2 years for Trans Mediterranean Airways a Lebanese cargo carrier.It was a very interesting job in that they had 65 stations around  the world and you would leave Beirut with a copilot that had maybe 200 hours in airplanes and fortunately a first rate plumber and off you’d go around the world. My favorite run was Dubai to Kabul, Afghanistan with a stop in Kandahar. Kabul is a one way strip, land uphill and take off downhill, it was 6000 foot elevation with no navaids.

During those 2 years I made many round the world trips and many over the pole trips. In 1977 I moved back to Vegas and was Director of Operations for Nevada Airlines flying DC-3’s and Twin Beech’s to the Canyon. In September of 77 I was called to Budapest for another CIA operation flying 707’s loaded with arms and ammo to Mogadishu.

Leaving Budapest then refueling in Jeddah we flew radio silence down the Red Sea trying to avoid the MiGs based in Aden, whose sole purpose on earth was to force us down. The briefing was simple. If you guys get into trouble DON’T CALL US. Back to Vegas in December of that year I was hired as Chief Pilot for Bonanza Airlines operating DC-3’s and a Gulfstream 1 from Vegas to Aspen.

After that airline collapsed I was hired by Hilton Hotels to fly their Lear 35A. In my spare time I flew part time for Dynalectron and the EPA on an underground nuke test monitoring program. I flew their B-26, OV-10,
Volpar Beech and Huey helicopter. I also flew the Tri Motor Ford part time for Scenic Airlines. In 1978 my Dad passed away and his will left me with one dollar, which incidentally, I never got.

In 1980 I ran for the Nevada State Senate district 4. I lost miserably only because I was uninformed, unprepared and both of my size 9 triple E’s were continually in my mouth.

I got fired from Hilton shortly after that and moved to Cairo, Egypt to fly for Air Trans another CIA cutout. After the Camp David accords were signed in 1979 each country, Egypt and Israel were required to operate 4 flights a week into the others country. Of course, El Al pilots didn’t mind flying into Cairo but you could not find an Egyptian pilot that would fly into Tel Aviv. So an Egyptian airline was formed called Nefertiti Airlines with me as chief pilot to fly the 4 flights a week into Tel  Aviv.
On our off time we flew subcontract for Egyptair throughout Europe and Africa. All this, of course was just a cover for our real missions which was all kinds of nefarious gun running throughout Europe and Africa  which we did in our spare time.

And now that our beloved 40th president has passed on I can tell you that in fact (with my apologies to Michael Reagan) the October Surprise was true. The October surprise for those of you that don’t remember happened during October of 1980 when Reagan and Bush were running against Carter and Mondale. George Bush was flown in a BAC 111 one Saturday night to Paris to meet with the Ayatollah Khomeini. Bush offered the Khomeini a deal whereby if he would delay the release of the hostages held in Tehran until Reagans inauguration, the administration would supply unlimited guns and ammunition to the Iranians.

In order to get Bush back for a Sunday morning brunch so that nobody would be alerted to his absence he was flown back in an SR-71 from Reims field near Paris to McGuire AFB. Of course Reagan won, the hostages were released and one of my jobs in Cairo was to deliver those arms from Tel Aviv to Tehran.
Unfortunately, the first airplane in, an Argentinean CL-44 was shot down by the Russians just south of Yerevan and Mossad who was running the operation didn’t want to risk sending my 707. The arms where eventually delivered through Dubai, across the Persian Gulf and directly into Terhan.

During the 2 years I was in Cairo I averaged 180 hours a month with a top month of 236 hours in a 31day period. I spent a 6 week tour in Khartoum flying cows to Saana, North Yemen in an old Rolls Royce powered 707.

Back in Las Vegas in December of 1982 I sat on my ass until I was out of money, again, and then went to work for Global Int’l Airlines in Kansas City, another CIA cutout run by Farhad Azima, an Iranian with a bonafide Gold Plated Get Out of Jail Free card flying 707’s until they collapsed in October of 83.

During the summer of 1983 the FAA celebrated its 25th Anniversary at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. There was much fanfare
and speech making and 2 honored guests. Bill Conrad from Miami, Florida who had the most type ratings, I think over 50. And myself. I had the most airman certificates issued of any other airman.

After Global’s collapse I went went to work for American Trans Air flying 707’s. I wrote their international navigation manual as MNPS for North
Atlantic operations was just being implemented and became the first FAA designated check airman for MNPS navigation. ATA then added 727’s and thenLockheed L-1011’s. For a very brief time I was qualified as captain in all three.

After getting fired from ATA in July of 1989 I became a freight dog flying DC-8’s for Rosenbalm Aviation which became Flagship Express and after that airline collapsed I was hired as Chief pilot for Patriot Airlines out of Stead Field in Reno, flying cargo 727’s from Miami to South America. After getting fired from Patriot I went to work for Connie Kalitta flying DC-8s then the L-1011 on which I was a check airman. Kalitta sold out to Kitty Hawk International which went bankrupt in May of 2000.

I was 57 at the time and nobody is going to hire an old f*ck for two and a half years except to fly sideways as a FE so I turned in my stripes and ever present flask of Courvoisier. Except for one last fling in March of 2001 where I flew the Hadj for a Cambodian Airline flying L-1011’s under contract to Air India. We were based in New Delhi and flew to Jeddah from all throughout India. There was absolutely no paperwork, no FAA, no BS and for 6 weeks we just moved Hadji’s back and forth to Saudi Arabia.

One final note, in October of 1999 I had the honor and extreme pleasure to get checked out in a Lockheed CF-104D Starfighter. My instructor was Darryl Greenamyer, the airplane was owned by Mark and Gretchen Sherman of Phoenix. It was the highlight of my aviation career particularly because I survived my first and only SFO in a high performance fighter.

One other thing, some how I managed to get he following type ratings: Boeing 707/720/727, Convair 240/340/440, DC-3, DC-8, B-26, Gulfstream 1, Lockheed Constellation, Lear Jet series, HS-125, Lockheed L-1011, Lockheed L-18, Lockheed P-38, Martin 202/404, B-17, B-25, Grumman TBM and Ford Trimotor.

I also have single and multi engine sea, rotorcraft helicopter and gyroplane, and lighter than air free balloon. I never got all categories having missed the Airship. And in case you are interested many, many airmen have lots more type ratings.

What I did get, that no other airman got, was most FAA certificates:  These are: the ATP, Flight Instructor with airplane single and multi-engine, instrument, rotorcraft helicopter and gyroplane and glider. Flight Navigator, Flight Engineer, Senior Parachute Rigger, Control Tower Operator, A&P, Ground Instructor, Advanced and Instrument and Aircraft Dispatcher.

I have 19,488 hours of Total time of which 15,325 hours is in 1,2,3 or 4 engine jet.

I took a total of 181 FAA (or designated check airman) check rides and failed only 2. Of the thousands of times I knowingly violated a FAA regulation I was only caught once but never charged or prosecuted.

The farthest I have ever been off course was 321 miles to the left over the South China Sea in a 707 on New Years day 1977 on a flight from Taipei
to Singapore. The deviation was not caught by Hong Kong, Manila or Singapore radar and I penetrated six different zero to unlimited restricted areas west of the Philippines. I landed in Singapore 7 minutes late without further incident.

How, you ask, did I get so far off course? The short answer is I was napping at the controls. I have flown just about everywhere except Russia,China, Mongolia, Korea, Antarctica, Australia or New Zealand.

I am a senior vice-commander of the American Legion Post No.1 Shanghai, China (Generals Ward, Chennault and Helseth) (operating in exile) and a 21
year member of the Special Operations Association.

Now some of you may be asking why so many airlines collapsed that I worked for and why I got fired so many times. My excuse is simple. I am not the
brightest crayon in the box, I am extremely lazy, I have a smart mouth and a real poor fucking attitude.

This blog prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue aviator