The Earl E. Myers Story
Page 1 of 2 Pages
|On arrival at the London Hilton the normal things occurred, shave, shine, shower etc. After a good meal, I hit the sack. We were to be at the owner's flat, I use that term loosely, the next morning. It was located on the top floor overlooking Hyde Park. It had five bedrooms with all the luxuries you could imagine. For guests, another 5 bedroom flat was located on the floor below.
After spending the morning with the new boss, lunch was served. We departed the next morning for Kuwait. Our routing was London Luton Airport, Athens, Beirut and on to Kuwait. The family had a palace in the mountain ridge to the South of Beirut. They were tired and wanted to stay overnight. The palace location overlooked the city of Beirut. What a beautiful sight that was.
The owner asked why we had to stop so often for fuel. He was informed that the limited maximum cruise range for the Lear 25 model was the problem. He replied “That’s not what they told me when I bought the airplane!” I said, “Well, they were an aircraft sales company. What you need is a Gulfstream aircraft that has the range that you are looking for. With that aircraft, your route plan would read New York, London, Kuwait.” He said “How much are they?” My reply was $7.5 mil. at that time. He replied, “Well, we are not going to have one.”
|From that point on, every time we saw a Gulfstream we said, “There's the next aircraft that you are going to have.” After a few flights in the Lear 25 he started softening up on the purchase. He could have bought out the Grumman factory, complete, and still would have had money left over. Soon after, we were in London and he called to ask if I could arrange for him to travel from London to New York and then continue on to Houston. My reply was that there were only 6 G-IIs in all of Europe, but I'll try. I checked and none were available. I then said to him “I can have a G II waiting for you at Houston for your return trip”. He replied “You'll be a hero if you can do that.”
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|A call was made to the Grumman Factory in Savannah, Ga. where the Gulfstream was manufactured. They stated that their demo aircraft was in South America. I asked them to “Find another aircraft and have it waiting at Houston Hobby Airport for a departure at 1800 hours on a specified date. Also have an aircraft salesman on board to answer any questions that may come up. He is to sit away from the boss and the only time he was to talk was when he was asked a question.” As it turned out, the salesman selected happened to be of Arabic decent and was fluent in Arabic The G-II was waiting on schedule. When they arrived at Luton Airport, my Boss was the first one off and he told me, “Were not going to have one”. My reply was, “Boss you speak with forked tongue, you have already purchased a G-II”. He had a big grin on his face and admitted that, yes, he had signed an order for one.
During the conversation regarding the purchase of the G-II, the president of a prefab building company from Houston was present. The boss wanted to pay cash for the G-II and he could have done so with the change in his pocket. I brought it to his attention that he should consider buying the G-II on a 7 year plan and use that for a tax write off for the prefab company in Houston that he had just purchased.. The president of the prefab company stated, "Listen to him, he is correct. Use it for a tax write off.” He did.
On a trip to Spain in the Lear 25, we stopped and picked up the president and designer of all the spiffy hotels in Atlanta. We then proceeded to Granada, Spain. There were a few business associates that met us in Granada that were involved in the prefab business to be established in Kuwait. We were at the #1 place to eat in all of Granada located in the huge Medieval Moorish complex. Granada is located South of Cordoba, Spain.
At this restaurant, the majority of the guests were selecting the wine list labels from the wine list. It was time consuming. I ordered a glass of "vino de casa roja" for myself. The boss asked what the rest of them were doing. I stated that they were drinking in the labels. He instructed me to order everyone vino de casa like your's. It wasn't that it was too expensive as it was equivalent to about .15 cents U.S. per glass. But, the boss did not want to waste time waiting for everyone to make up there mind. My Spanish sure came alive on that trip as it did for many other trips to Spain and South America that were to follow.
On one occasion we had just landed at London Luton Airport and had a call to proceed on to Cairo to pick up a contact person and proceed on to Luxor and return to London Luton. Off we went and a fuel stop was required at Malta and then continue to Cairo. We picked up the coordinator, refueled and departed for Luxor, Egypt which is about 350 miles South of Cairo. The coordinator was gone about 1 hour and when he returned, off we went returning to Cairo. On arrival at Cairo the normal radio calls were made be we received no response. We descended VFR to traffic altitude and were still trying to call Cairo Tower with no response. We landed and taxied to the normal parking position and performed the engine shut down procedure. About that time, Cairo Tower called and told us to descend to Flight Level 3,500 ft. Our reply was “We are on the ground in front of the tower and have already shut down engines.” They acknowledged and said we were cleared to land. As it turned out, the tower operators were praying as they do 5 times a day. ALLAH!
By the way I hope you never have a requirement to go to the basement of the Cairo Airport Terminal. I went looking for some baggage and the place was infested with rats that were the size of cats. These stories could go on and on, but it's better not to bore anyone with more.
The G II was completed at the Grumman Factory at Savannah in 1975. A factory crew ferried it to an aircraft refurbishing company located at Van Nyes, CA airport. The first thing that was accomplished was the measuring and manufacture of a custom-designed carpet for the aircraft. It cost about one mill. Of course it was not installed until the last item was completed. The finished carpet was at least one inch thick.
In the meantime the boss purchased the Onassis Penthouse at the Olympic Towers in New York. The apartment complex was outfitted in such a luxurious manner that it was almost beyond description. In spite of this, it was not gaudy by any means. The crew quarters was a 4 bedroom apartment located on the 16th floor with everything and anything a person could want, food and all.
While waiting for the Grumman II to be remodeled, we continued to fly the Lear 25. During that time, a flight to Houston near Christmas time proved to be very interesting. We stayed at the Galleria. The boss, being Kuwati, Christmas did not mean anything to him. He asked me what he should buy his wife for Christmas. I had noted an advertisement in the Houston Post from Neiman Marcus regarding a bathtub of jewels. I kiddingly mentioned to him that perhaps he would like to purchase a bathtub of jewels as advertised! He said “Let's you and me go and look.” Off we went and he did just that.
Now comes the Grumman ground school located at Savannah. It involved about one month of intense ground school and flight simulator training. It was a grueling experience. Then back to Kuwait with the Lear Jet and many more flights up and down the Arabian Gulf, Egypt, etc.
It took the outfitter about six months to complete the modifications to the Gulfstream II. In the meantime the flight crew attended the Los Angles Police Academy for security reasons while we were operating the G-II. It was tough but very thorough and excellent training. Five handguns were located on the G II and only the boss and the flight crew were aware of their location. Two in the cockpit of course.
Our acceptance flight from the outfitter was from Van Nyes to New York, then London and return to New York. The best way that I could describe the experience was that it was like Aladdin's Lamp. The boss would rub it and out popped a Genie. It was like being on a magic carpet. On one occasion at the Kuwait Airport, Yasser Arafat approached the aircraft and asked if I was his captain that day. “No,” was my reply. He most likely would have not done that, had he known that I was caring a side arm.
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