The Depression was still in full swing back then, and making a living as a pilot was tough.
There weren't any flying jobs to speak of. Even the military had just a handful of
airplanes. So I did what many other aviators did: anything and everything. I took people
up for $1 a hop, gave lessons, and even put on air shows. Folks came out to see if the fool
kid would kill himself, and like a fool, on several occasions I almost obliged. Man,
I scared myself.
There were some great people out on the barnstorming circuit, including Joe Mackey, who
later founded Mackey Airlines in Florida, and Mike Murphy, who went on to become the
aviation manager for Marathon Oil's flight department. Those two guys were hell raisers.
They certainly knew how to have a good time. They taught me a lot (some lessons I probably
should have done without). Sometimes the three of us put on a combined show. We were good,
doing formation flying, low-level aerobatics, ribbon cuts, parachute jumps - the works. As
I look back on some of those crazy stunts, I'm amazed I survived.