One element of aviation that seemed promising to both of us was the one we shared - business
aviation. Throughout the country, top executives were discovering the flexibility and time
savings that corporate airplanes provided. And every year we could see more companies
placing their own aircraft in service. Soon ramps from White Plains to Wilmington to Walla
Walla were populated with Lodestars, Beech 18s and converted C-47s. Mr. Trippe wanted
to capitalize on that trend, and so did I.
During that period I spent an awful lot of time cooling my heels at different FBOs and
pilot lounges, such as they were, and I got to meet the other corporate pilots who were
hanging around too. It was a fairly small fraternity back then; we got to know each other
pretty well. They were a terrific bunch of guys. By then I had been flying for Pan Am for
several years and had been molded by its approach to flying. Andy Priester was Pan Am's
legendary head of operations. He demanded precision from everyone under his rule, and that
applied most especially to the flight crews.
Pilot training at Pan Am was rigorous, exacting and never-ending. It seemed like we were
always going back to school to learn some new system or navigation technique, or to
relearn what we might have forgotten. We were drilled on procedures, on operating
manuals, on weather. And then we were tested to be sure we knew what we thought we
knew. All of us understood that was what it took to be safe.