In September 1963, I became a member of the Sales Engineering group on the 7th floor of the new executive tower; it had windows.
It was a slow start at first - learning to think Commercial, in lieu of Military. This was a whole new way of doing business, with one side benefit - that was the ability to go with a salesman, when required, or on your own to visit a customer. After assisting salesmen with brochures and studies for several presentations, it was then my turn to visit an airline.
John Burton, Sales Director for the Western part of the U.S. needed assistance at West Coast Airlines in Seattle and United in San Francisco. Both carriers were interested in the DC-9. United was already operating DC-8s and had been a longtime Douglas customer. However, they had deep roots with Boeing at the higher management level.
The next trip took me on to Miami to give a presentation to Bud Maytag, President and owner of National Airlines. Bud was of the Maytag (Appliance) family and was very savvy on the airline business and impressed me. Of course, almost everyone impressed me at first.
In June of 1964, because I was the only one standing around with a passport, they selected me to go to Saudi Arabia in support of Joe Pimentel, who had become the Mid-East Salesman for Douglas. Joe was already in Jedda and needed someone as soon as possible. I left the next day with all the required shots but one, which was to be received in Jedda, a cholera shot.
The trip left from Los Angeles, on to New York, Lisbon to Geneva, a night in Geneva, an overnight in Beirut, then to Jedda. Toilet paper was everywhere around the airport runways. Ramadan had just ended, and people were camped on the airport proper and next to the runways when going and coming to Mecca for their pilgrimage. Off the airplane, we passed armed guards, handing over our passports until we left the country - not the warmest feeling one can have.
The people that we met in Saudi Arabia were friendly and this was my first contact with Mort Byer, who was managing Saudi Arabian Airlines for TWA. Joe and I did our job of holding off the British and their Lawrence of Arabia legacy. Joe later sold Saudi Arabia DC-9-10s. During this trip, we were in and out of Beirut on our way to Amman, Jordan-Tehran, Iran and Damascus, Syria. On the trip to Damascus, we were driven by our Agents son - a Lebanese, who thought he was the answer to all the women in the world, but a very sharp young man. The car broke down one hour outside of Damascus, and we sat and drank sodas at this lonely gas station while waiting for a pick up from the airline. This occurred and we went on to give our presentation to the airline personnel.
The one standout factor on this trip was the anti-Israel attitude which was more the topic of the day, rather than airplanes. They could not understand why we supported Israel at the level that we did. We stayed away from responding as best we could; there was no answer here.
Later, on our trip to Royal Jordanian Airline, we were given a tour of Jerusalam and Bethlehem - something that was not expected when I started on this odyssey. Nothing seemed to change in this city over the past two thousand years. The Mediterranean was beautiful, Beirut an active city, and the elegant Phoenicia Hotel were both reduced to rubble shortly thereafter. The Persians of Iran left a bad image upon me.
All in all, this was a good way to experience International travel. However, this would be the last trip to an International carrier for the next 19 years.
In November, I was sent to Hawaii to support John Burton in his campaign to sell DC-9 Series 10s to Aloha Airlines. There are two airlines in the Hawaiian Islands - Hawaiian and Aloha.
Hawaiian had been operating in the Islands since the 1930's when aviation was becoming feasible to operate a passenger service between Islands. At first, they operated flying boats, and as business expanded, they were able to order the highly successful DC-3.
Johnny Martin, at the time a delivery pilot for Douglas, was on his way home on the Lureline after delivering their first DC-3 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The DC-3s found themselves serving the U.S. military in the Islands during the war. After the war, the airline went through equipment gyrations and had been operating Convair 440s into the 60s.
The airline was purchased by Jack Magoon, a neophyte in the airline business, but a native to the Hawaiian Islands - a mixture of Irish-Chinese background. The family had extensive land holdings in the Islands. Jack owned an elegant old home, in which he was raised. It is located at the foot of Diamond Head, right on the ocean, and one of the most beautiful spots in the world. It was also said that Jack made a considerable amount of money during World War II in the laundry business. He purchased the airline to provide himself a higher image within the community and an image to enhance the Hawaiian culture. Jack was high on Hawaii and Hawaiians. He always promoted the Hawaiian peoples image. Jack Purchased the DC-9s from Harry Horjth, who was the V.P. International Marketing for Douglas. These aircraft were promised to be delivered in Spring of 1966.
Aloha Airlines began operations in the Islands after World War II. They started with DC-3s, and in 1964 they were operating Fairchild F-27 aircraft, similar in size to the Hawaiian Convair 240 aircraft. The airlines were so competitive that their schedules reflected the same takeoff and departure times. Many times, they would race each other to the end of the runway, so that they could be first for takeoff.
Aloha was owned by Dr.Hung Wo Ching, an astute businessman, who had an outstanding sense of humor. The operations were handled by Ken Char, President; Pete Economou, V.P. Operations; and Merle Halerstadt, V.P. Finance. We had, during this campaign, become good friends of the Aloha people.
From the beginning, John and I had a problem, in that the people who purchased the DC-9, Hawaiian, had no contact with us to this date, and we were here to sell aircraft to their competitor. During the Aloha campaign, we tried to keep a low-profile with people from Hawaiian; it was difficult, but we did begin to meet with them and to discuss their DC-9 plans, and get to know them better.
Our competition was the BAC-111, the same aircraft we competed against in Saudi Arabia. The aircraft were similar in size, but Aloha opted to purchase the DC-9. John and I were pleased. He then called Long Beach to obtain delivery positions for Aloha. Aloha, of course, wanted delivery dates similar to Hawaiians, Spring of 1966. John was told that we did not have delivery positions available until Spring of 1967. This was impossible for Aloha to give Hawaiian a full years advantage with Jets. The English were offering Spring 1966 to Aloha for the BAC-111. With all the relationship build-up, making friends and getting their trust, we lost it. Aloha purchased the BAC-111.