The Earl E. Myers Story
Page 1 of 2 Pages
I received a telephone call from Culiacan, Mexico about February 1981. The requirement was to train 3 Mexican pilots in an early model Lear 23. It was a 3-month contract that lasted two and a half years. The company would provide living quarters for Kipp and myself, maid included. It was a beautiful hacienda with just about everything you would want. I was introduced to the owner and his family.
All went well until the first flight in the Model 23. It had been in Santa Barbara for a major overhaul. The FAA had inspected the aircraft and signed it off. I have no idea who ferried it to the Lear Jet Factory in Tucson. That is where I meet with the owner and struck up a contract for 6 months. He wanted to fly in it before departing for Culiacan, Mexico, which is about 100 miles North of Mazatlan.
At cruise altitude we engaged the auto pilot and the aircraft started a severe left turn. The auto pilot was disengaged at once and we tried again. Samo samo. That was the end of the functional flight check and we soon landed back at the Tucson airport. The Lear Factory inspectors made a thorough ground check and brought so many defective items to our attention that it would have choked a Texas Long Horn bull. The FAA was called in to do an inspection. When it was completed, the FAA had a list of write-ups that grounded the aircraft. An investigating board was appointed by the FAA and some heads began to roll. There was not a single component installed under the nose nacelles that I recognized. It was a complete makeover. UNAUTHORIZED, to say the least. I questioned the maintenance personal and they said they had never seen anything like it.
I checked into the previous owner and found out the aircraft had been previously located at the Spirit Of St. Louis Airport, St. Louis, Missouri.
Thinking back, I remembered a Lear Jet that had been under water from flooding at this airport. With further checking, sure enough this was the one. The aircraft should have been junked after that dunking and I mean dunking. The FAA was not aware of this situation and again more heads started to roll. The previous owner had a history of shady deals and this was about as shady as you can get.
The LR-23 had been in the Lear Factory for 4 months. To keep things rolling I would make an unannounced appearance at the factory during the 3rd shift to be sure that they were continuing the work on the aircraft. Sometimes they were not and that is understandable, to a point. They preferred working on new aircraft. Some times it was a a tug of war. The time had come to roll the Lear out of the factory and do an engine run up and systems check. All went quite well and the few gigs that were noticed were corrected. The aircraft was scheduled for a functional flight check the next day.
With all system's "GO" and we blasted off and at once the aircraft wanted to turn to the right. A correction was made and that just aggravated the situation. Reverse ailerons were not a normal way to operate an aircraft. [Flashback: The B-47 would go into aileron reversal at an indicated airspeed of 456 knots. This was part of the training that was given at McConnell AFB during initial check out. McCoy AFB, at Orlando, was named after Col. Mike McCoy who was demonstrating the aircraft to an RAF officer/pilot and he forgot the correct procedure to recover. Thus a pile of metal on the airport at McCoy.] Well, that training, accomplished way back in 1954, paid off, for me some 24 years later and we were able to make a safe landing at Tucson International Airport.
After kissing the ground, I had the aircraft isolated and locked in a hanger across the airport from the factory. FAA was called in and an intense investigation was initiated. It was determined that the ailerons were reversed by some unauthorized maintenance procedure and criminal charges were preferred against several maintenance personal and the situation was finally corrected in court. Such is the life of a pilot Thank you, once again, God.
I had enrolled Kipp in school and he was doing better than average. He had a difficult time leaving his friends behind in Tucson and moving on into a new phase of schooling in Culiacan, Mexico. He was enrolled in an all Mexican School. It did not take him very long to adapt to the language and he soon was on both the school's soccer and baseball teams. Kipp has strong bilingual capabilities and could hang in on a discussion with ease.
Settling down to a new environment was not difficult. The quarters being furnished and all new made it much easier. The majority of our flights were within Mexico. Hanger space at our home base was a problem. In speaking to the owner I made the suggestion that he build an ultra modern facility. With the owner being in construction, it was no problem to plan it out and start the construction project. All of the design, planning and location of the building was handled within the company. The owner had built almost all of the hotels located at Cabo San Lucas and a variety of other housing facilities and hotels all over Mexico.
Sometimes we would overnight at a city where he had a hotel construction project in the works. It seemed like Veracruz on the East side of Mexico was one of the most active locations. Some big contracts were in progress by the company. On one occasion while a Cinco de Mayo was in progress, the other pilot and I bought big fake Mexican mustaches. When we saw the owner and his people approaching the aircraft we donned the mustaches and a sombrero. All of the passengers got a real bang out of that one. The Fearris (carnival) were a lot of fun with all kinds of different food available. Everyone was having a "bien tempo".
These cities in Mexico were not like the border cites. They were clean and well kept. Tabasco and Chiapas were very interesting states. They are located in the East of Mexico and are all well kept, each with their own unique histories. Hotels, again, were good. We made so many trips to Mexico City that it would take me hours going through my log book to sort them out. Acapulco, on the West side of Mexico, was a real disappointment as the beaches were in sad repair and always littered. Watching the diver go off the cliff was interesting, but that is not for me. Guadalajara is a beautiful experience and was always welcomed for an overnight. The city is so rich in history that I could spend the rest of my life describing it. The community of Tequila, which is located about 15 miles North of Guadalajara, is most likely the cleanest city in all of Mexico. Good samples of that drink also were available. The city of Colima Michoacan has an active volcano to the west of the community.