WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was the best of times and the worst of times. Charles Dickens said that in “A Tale of Two Cities.” But I’m saying it now for me.
The worst of times is that at age 92, I must give up writing for General Aviation News the happenings in the nation’s capital and the various organizations based here.
It has been a great ride. Over the past 18 or so years I have enjoyed trying to keep GAN readers informed from here. I thank Ben Sclair, publisher, and Janice Wood, editor, for the opportunity.
And I thank my wife of 71 years for putting up with me and my work. And, thanks to my family who are so patient with me.
I have had a great ride since beginning my work at The Louisville Courier-Journal and Times newspapers at age 16, working two years after school and in the evenings. After graduation I went full time doing art work in the circulation promotion department.
A year of that and the writer became ill, so I had to write as well as draw. “You are a better writer than artist,” they told me. So, I changed. Another year and The Cincinnati Enquirer called. I moved.
After discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, I joined the Hearst Organization as promotion manager of The Oakland Post-Enquirer in Oakland, California. Randolph Hearst, one of William Randolph Hearst’s five sons, was assistant publisher.
Randy was talking with me one day and said he liked my work. “Because my name is Hearst,” he said, “everyone here agrees with me. You are the only who disagrees. That’s good. When you have two people who agree all the time you have one too many people.”
He taught me much about work. “We will agree on what is to be done,” he said, “and then it is yours to do. You are going to make mistakes, but if you do right 51 percent of the time, we’re ahead.”
Randy was a large part of my newspaper career. After the Oakland newspaper stopped publishing, we were both part of the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, he as publisher, me as promotion manager. Four years later, I left San Francisco and went to New York City to Hearst Promotion Enterprises. Here we worked not only to help Hearst newspapers with their promotions, but also all other publications that carried Hearst’s American Weekly Sunday magazine. That started me touring the country.
Hearst’s New York Mirror was the second largest newspaper in the U.S., led only by the New York Daily News. Circulation dropped, so I was transferred to The Mirror. Through various promotions and public relations programs and some work with the editor, The Mirror again gained second position at the next circulation reporting.
One day, Randy Hearst called to have lunch. I was to start a public relations office in Hearst general management. We had this for a year in the 1950s.
My interests to fly aircraft channeled me to aviation. I later earned my single and twin engine and instrument ratings.
A brief stint on Flying Magazine and I came to Washington to be at the Utility Airplane Council. This consisted of Piper, Beech, Cessna, and Aero-Commander aircraft and Continental and Lycoming engine companies. I was fortunate enough to work with Mr. Piper, his sons, Olive Ann Beech, Dwane Wallace of Cessna and others when general aviation was growing fast.
Flying took my interests and I moved to be Senior Vice President of Public Relations of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. At retirement age they let me go and after a couple years of freelance reporting, FLYER newspaper — later to become General Aviation News — assigned me to report from Washington.
I am telling this not to brag, but to inform you of the type of people who make up General Aviation News.
It has been a great ride over these 76 years. These have been the best of times. But it is time to leave the hangar doors closed. Thanks for reading me over these years.
May you have wind beneath your wings and always fly with a tail wind. Goodbye.