Chapter 22

My career settled into going back and forth between Honolulu and Minneapolis, negotiating Letters of Intent for Series 50 aircraft and enjoying each of these airlines.

My visits to Northwest Airlines began in earnest as the DC-10 production line was slowing down and we wanted Northwest to purchase additional DC-10s. They purchased the original DC-10s from Dave Lewis who became President when McDonnell took control of Douglas. He was doing a good job getting Douglas kick-started, and had a good repoire with the airlines top Management which the previous Douglas management was short on. McDonnells experience in the commercial marketplace had been miserable to say the least. Don Nyrop took to him and they were able to conclude a package for (22) DC-10-40 aircraft. The McDonnells would not give the title of President of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation to him; therefore, he left, leaving a large void in our relationships with the carriers.

The problem was that they purchased for the aircraft an engine that was not the most efficient for its time and not the engine of norm, which was the General Electric CF-50C. Don told the people that when he purchased GE, it would be light bulbs. He was a dyed in the wool Pratt and Whitney engine purchaser. It undoubtedly dated back to when Pratt was the leading manufacturer of engines. Don was not the only airline executive with this motivation, and it was difficult to combat this thinking, whatever the reason was; one can only presuppose.

Douglas bent and we put the Pratt and Whitney engines on the aircraft; the only carrier to purchase this aircraft and engine combination. However, Japan Airlines purchased a more advanced version of the Pratt engine, the -59A . These were the only purchasers of the Pratt/DC-10 combination.

Don was a breed from the past taking over a struggling airline soon after the Second World War and a political animal in the regulated airline business. Among his employees, he was a difficult person to work for. He was frugal to a fault, non-trusting of the people that worked for him. Toilet doors were removed to keep people from spending excessive time on the John. I am sure Don would take walks to make sure this never occurred. He instilled this attitude in several of his employees who followed his dictum to the letter. Oh, and yes, he had become a staunch Boeing man. Even though he professed to have a good relationship with Don Douglas from the past days of propeller aircraft. If our competitor were Boeing in lieu of Lockheed, we would have come in second.

When it came time to resell Northwest additional aircraft, we could not build the engine suspension to support the engine to the wing like the ones he had on his present aircraft. This would have made them uncommon to his present fleet, and Don made a fuss over this problem. What was really happening was the disappointment in the wide-bodied Jets on the domestic system and a downturn in traffic.

It was a long frustrating period of time trying to make Don happy, and also taking the pressure from Long Beach to sell additional DC-10s. It stalemated and his major concern was concentrating on the purchase of 747 aircraft for his Pacific routes.

Don also had a shortstop, a person that stood between him and the Manufacture Salesman; this was Ben Griggs. Ben listened to my stories and translated Dons position, but the facts were that Don had purchased the wrong engine for the DC-10, and he used it as an excuse for not purchasing additional aircraft. The simple fact was the DC-10 had run its course at Northwest. But Ben was a pleasant go-between, one who listened and did his best to assist if he could.

Other than this frustrating time period with Northwest Airlines, it was stable. There were sales of aircraft to Hawaiian and North Central, an occasional golf tournament, customer golf and involvement with other carriers within my responsibility.