The Keys
Bob Bogash
Bob Bogash         

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The Keys

About 1982-84, I was working for Dick Taylor. Dick was a Boeing Icon. He flew during WW II in Europe, then became a Boeing Test Pilot, flying B-47s and B-52s out of Wichita.

   Dick in Boeing 737 Prototype

He was famous for having developed the nuclear bomb delivery method consisting of a high speed, low altitude entry, followed by a half loop in which the bomb was released, and then rolling out at the top of the loop and diving back for the deck as an escape-from-the-blast maneuver. He had pictures of that on his office wall.

  B-47 toss bombing

Later, he was Director of Engineering for the Boeing 737, ran the Washington D.C. office, and headed Military Airplane Systems and then Renton  (which had a series of names, starting with the Transport Division, then the 707/727/737 Division when the 737 was entering the fold - but was still separate, the BCAC (Boeing Commercial Airplane Company), then BCAG (when "Company" became a "Group"), and finally BCA - for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Got it? I may have the sequence wrong - maybe even some of the names - hard to keep up with. Later, the 757 was separate as a Division, but ultimately folded back into BCA.

Over time, Dick lost a lot of his empire, slowly stripped away by the Top Brass for whatever reason. Around the time I came to work for him, he was down to V.P. of Special Ops or some such. That's OK, I have been Manager and Director of Special Ops several times in my career. That's the Title Boeing gives you when you no longer have a "real" job, because they don't like the looks of Manager of Siberian Powerplant(s) on your business card.

Actually, those Special Ops guys played a key roll in the running of the Company, back before Phil Condit "saved" money and eliminated them. There were quite a few scattered across the disciplines, like Ed Wells, Bob Brown, Dean Cruze, Wes Mauldin, John Swihart, Bob McDonald, Ken Holtby and a few more. They usually had big offices with just a single report - their secretary. In my case, Dick wound up with two reports - his secretary Mary Lou Mantzarinis - and me. Plagiarizing from the movie Twelve O'Clock High, I called it The Leper Colony.

I much prefer calling them Patriarchs, which is what they were. They were folks who were extra smart, had been around a long time, could separate the bear shit from the buckwheat, and who were greatly trusted to be the eyes and ears of the big bosses - namely Bill Allen and T. Wilson - into programs underway in the various divisions - and especially could serve as the common sense sounding boards for proposed projects. Relieved of big orgs with big headcounts, and all the attendant headaches, they could devote their time to ferreting out the weak spots in what was going on. The debacle that became The Boeing Company, starting with the development of the 787 (and continuing to today) shows just how sorely they are missed, as follow-on bosses (like phil condit) thought they were just as smart as the partriarchs, and sinking the patriarch ship could save a lot of money (for themselves.).

Looking out my north window, I looked into the doors of a very familiar long narrow building: it  used to be called The College of Jet Knowledge. When I came to work for Boeing in Customer Support, that's where people - primarily airline customers - came to learn about their new airplanes - from guys like Dick White and Peter (nee Pete) Morton. The classrooms had these great roll-around systems boards, with moving parts, that mimic'd the airplane systems, and I always thought their design and construction was almost better than the real thing. I spent quite a few hours in those classrooms, learning about Boeing jets.

Dick could be a cool and distant customer to work around - and for. His office was in a 3 office complex just west of mine and he had a big conference room. In so many ways, he reminded me of my father. Praise - at least in my case - was not readily forthcoming - if ever. When I grew up, you had to bring test results home for your parents to review and sign for. I (occasionally) did pretty good in school (when I wanted to) and if I brought home a test with a 98 score, my dad would study it silently for a long time, then look over his reading glasses at me and ask "What happened to the other two points?" He may have meant it in jest, but I never took it that way. He wasn't smiling and didn't laugh - and neither did I. I took it to mean I needed to work even harder. Dick was a mirror image of that and I never figured I was cutting it with him. It was only in March 2016, when I restored and flew the Number One 727 from Everett to Boeing Field in Seattle, after having sat semi-derelict for 25 years, that I found out what Dick really felt. I told his son Steve that I wished Dick could have been there to see the event, and Steve said something like 'his Dad would have been proud of me and always felt I was a go-to guy for getting things done'. That was truly news to me.

But, just the same, there were a few "signs." Signs of acceptance, that is. Dick was a very private man, and allowed very few, if any, people into his office. Just him and Mary Lou. All his meetings took place in his Conference Room. Including mine. And then - and then one day, as we were discussing something, he moved into his office, with me in trail. It was all very quiet and subdued, and subtle,  but I realized that I had just been admitted into the Inner Sanctum - a sign of great acceptance. Thereafter, we would have his meetings in his office, and not in his Conference Room.

As a Staff guy working for a Staff guy, I got a lot of assignments. And I'd get my marching orders in his office, scribbling the instructions on a steno pad I carried around with me. Boeing had this info system called M.I. - for Management Information. There were racks in the halls for the various in-plant Mail-Stops, and from time to time a big stack of these yellow or blue colored half sheets would appear, intended for employees to pick off to find out the latest big changes. One time, an MI came out announcing that Dick had a new position and title. Dick didn't like what was in it and called me into his office - I hadn't seen it yet. I remember him loosening his tie,  kicking off his shoes, and he then lay down on his sofa as he tossed me the blue slip of paper. "This is the fifth or sixth time I've been demoted" he moaned, "and this is how I've found out about every one of them!"

Well, as explained before, losing an organization didn't really mean you were demoted, although it could be viewed that way. And Dick clearly did. Happened to me quite a few times - in fact that's exactly how I came to work for Dick. Usually, the pay stayed the same - sometimes it even went up. But clearly, the company was not very suave about how it handled such things. Anyhow, as I sat there in one of Dick's arm chairs, with my steno pad and pen at the ready, and here was Dick pouring out some of his company woes from the couch, I couldn't help thinking about the psychiatrist/patient setting and whether I should apply to get a shrink's license as well.


Dick had a soft-spoken way of dealing with people - especially the Feds (FAA) etc - with his laid back Indiana drawl, and could sell ice boxes to the Eskimos. But that doesn't mean he was a flim-flam used car salesman. If you worked for Dick - and I did - you knew how diligent and detailed he was in moving an adversary into the YES column. The Head Shed knew, and appreciated that quality, and drew on it for major projects of importance to the company. One such project was gaining approval from government regulators and pilot unions for flying long-range, over-water flights with twin engine airplanes. This became known as ETOPS - for Extended Twin Operations. Pilots claimed it stood for Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim.

I came to work for Dick when he got the assignment for making ETOPS a reality. As a fellow leper, he couldn't have known I was the perfect Tonto for his being The Lone Ranger. I had done extensive research on that very subject and had written a White Paper for my customer (Nordair in Montreal) all on my own, way back in 1969, promoting their use of the 737 on the North Atlantic.  I had done a similar one for Aloha Airlines, when I moved to Honolulu, analyzing flights between Hawaii and California.

                                      Nordair - North Atlantic

                              Aloha - Hawaii to California

I even had a huge aeronautical chart of the North Atlantic that covered my whole office wall. Said office, by the way, in keeping with the Big Office/No Organization scheme, was in the Northeast corner of the 10-85 building. Primo real estate, with windows on two walls. When I came to work for Boeing in 1965, it was the office of Hal Hemke - one of the Customer Support big shots. And it didn't escape me that here, about 18 years later, I was in "his" office.  Sans organization.  Big Hat, No Cattle.

One day, first thing on a Monday morning, Dick called me into his office for an assignment. I "assumed the position" - arm chair, steno pad and pen, ready for the firing of the starter's pistol. He announced that he had decided to accept an invite from the RAS (Royal Aeronautic Society) in London to give a talk about ETOPS. He asked me to prepare a paper for him that could be handed out, along with a set of slides that could be used as visuals, and also an accompanying large-type text for him to use from the podium. Pretty standard fare for one of his jobs, and I suggested an approach (describing the evolution of engine and crew count, from the Dornier DO-X, B-36, (10 engines) down to the B-52 (8 engines), B-47, 707, L-1011/DC-10, down to the A300 and 767 (Two engines - Twins).

At the end of the discussion, I asked him what the dates were - and he said "next Monday!" He was leaving on Sunday. Holy Crap - I had only six days (including that day) to get it outlined, researched, written, coordinated, printed and produced. This whole story is worthy of a chapter by itself, several chapters, in fact - but I quickly created some rough visuals and called mass meetings of functionaries to review what I proposed and what I wanted done, along with a timeline. I made the assertions, and it was up to them to prove me a liar.  We held one or two meetings in Dick's Conference Room. Dick sat in the back and didn't say anything, but the usual pack of engineering and marketing wolves at Boeing decided to have me for breakfast - then lunch and dinner. It wasn't pretty, and having a thick skin was a useful attribute at Boeing. Dick didn't say much, but after the meetings broke up, he clearly wasn't happy. I had all of about 3-4 days to make this into a reality, which I hoped could be used to my advantage. Boeing "helpers" were famous for proving that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

Skipping most of the gory details, I ultimately wound up going down to work on Weds morning and not coming home until Saturday late afternoon. The brochure was printed down at a big printing plant in Tacoma, and right in the middle of the print job, on the Saturday, Dick called "to make a few more changes." He was famous for that - on one of my jobs, I re-wrote a piece 17 or 18 times; when he tossed the last one back at me and said "No good, do over", I tossed it back at him and said "No, YOU do over. I'm done on that one!" Didn't get fired either.

Two of the ETOPS Papers I prepared for Dick
The one on the left - despite all the Boeing naysayers - became a best seller and had to be reprinted.
The one on the right was a follow-up report after ETOPS operations had begun

I studied Dick's M.O. for years and finally distilled his technique into "Removing the "No's."  We'd go into a meeting with the FAA or a pilot's union - like one we had with the British pilots.  He'd come out with his wild-ass proposal - like flying twins trans-ocean.  Well, of course, there'd be an explosion like Mount Vesuvius, with dozens of reasons put forth as to why it was the dumbest idea ever proposed and would never work.  Dick had me write them all down and quietly listened, never objecting.  Avoiding confrontation was essential; instead he listened with great interest.

So, we'd go home and make a list of all the points raised and work to eliminate them.  Sometimes it was a matter of collecting data to prove the assertion was incorrect - not supported by facts.  Other times, it was approaching engineering and making actual changes to the airplane design.  If we needed more fire bottles, we'd add them.  If we needed the APU for its third generator, we'd insist it be operable on dispatch and make changes so it could start and run at high altitudes.

After a few months, we'd go back and have another meeting.  We'd present the list of objections and defuse them all - one by one.  Of course, when they (grudgingly) went away, yet more objections would be raised.  Only fewer.  We'd go away and work those.  It was a case of Rinse and Repeat until ALL of the objections went away.  Then we were "there."

The wild-ass scheme had been morphed into the acceptable - using facts and data, and making changes where required. Pretty simple, really.

So, The Keys, yeah, The Keys. This little trip back down memory lane is supposed to be about The Keys. Well, one night I was working late - as usual. I think it was after 8 o'clock. I was busy working on "my" computer. A life long computernik, I jumped on-board the IBM PC in 1982 as soon as it came out, and could see how great it was for me to get my work done. The word processor allowed me to create documents without having to go about it the old way - writing everything out long hand and then giving it to my secretary, and then proof-reading it, then rinse and repeat. Boeing decided to get all the bosses computers, because that's what a "modern company" does. Well, the bosses didn't know how to do anything with them and they sat gathering dust, while us peons, who could really use them, went without. Dick was in that camp - he had an IBM PC in his office and never used it. I convinced him to part with it and it moved to my office where it could be put to real use.

One night, Dick popped his head in my office and wished me Good Night, told me not to work too late (Ha!) and walked out the adjacent North door to his car - a greyish Buick parked in the first Exec Parking Spot right outside the door. He returned a few minutes later - said he had left his keys in his office. After a few more minutes, he was unsuccessful and asked if I would help search - a second pair of eyes is often useful in those situations. But, in the end, Nada. No keys.

I volunteered that I could drive him home (I was a frequent visitor, since he often had me drop off projects I was working on in the evening - where his wife, Mary, always felt sorry for me, and tried to give me something to eat.  Of course, Dot had supper waiting.) He had spare keys at home and I could pick him up in the morning and drive him back to the plant with his spare keys.

Well, after some thought, that seemed like a plan, so he said "OK, let's go get in your car." That's when another little wrinkle entered - I might have had a fancy Executive Office, but I didn't have an Executive (EX) Parking Pass - just a Gate Pass (which got me inside the plant, but not an assigned close-by parking spot.) I packed up my stuff and gave Dot a call telling her I'd be a little late (again), then told him where my car was parked. It was about a 10 minute walk. He seemed a little surprised that it wasn't in the EX area - but actually, his Buick was the only car there. He said "You go get it and bring it around - I'll wait here." So, I did.

Now. besides being parked in the Back forty, my car was a little modest....

The Little Yeller Car

My car at the time was a little yellow 1971 Toyota Corolla. I had bought it used in Hawaii in 1975 when my 1967 Dodge Coronet Station wagon gave up the ghost (for the last time.) I remember that morning well - the oil pump failed in my driveway. I walked two blocks to the bus stop and got off at the Honolulu Airport - where I was working as the Field Rep. The road fronting the airport was "Auto Row" with dealers from all the brands. As I got off the bus, I said to myself "By the time I get to the end of this street, I'll be driving and not walking!" I had earlier pumped the guys at JAL over whether I should get a Datson or Toyota and they said Toyota. So that's what I got. It had 55,000 miles on it, was a two-door, and cost me $1000. I sold it 15 years later with about 240,000 miles on it - for $1000. Can't beat that!

But, any way you slice it, it was a pretty "modest" car, and eventually I gave it to my wife Dot; it was more her size and she liked it a lot. At one point, I installed some lead-lined sound proofing to deaden the road noise and installed a fancy Sony radio with separate amps and big speakers. I used to give guys rides, and then I'd turn on the radio and play Beethoven's Fifth at full volume without warning and blow their eardrums out. Great fun!

Dot - washing her little yeller car

Modest or not, it carried some fancy personages over the years. One very frequent passenger was Ed Wells - another Boeing Icon. For a few years, I was "Honors and Awards Chairman" for the local AIAA chapter (American Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics.) We held monthly meetings at the Renton plant to select the next month's honorees. Ed was on the committee. Although he still drove, he asked me if I would provide transportation - so I'd drive to his house near Bellevue, bring him to the plant, and then drive him back home. Did that many dozens of times, and since we arrived back around Noon, I often got invited in by his wife Dorothy to have sandwiches for lunch.

Ed was a car fan and drove a Mercedes, not quite in the league with my little Corolla.  But he never minded the modest set of wheels and we often discussed its merits and shortcomings.  A while later, he purchased his own Toyota - a 1985 Camry that he thought was the cat's meow.  Whether our discussions in my little Corolla played a part - I'll never know.   We got to know each other pretty doggone well, and is one reason I often say I was blessed to have known the people I did.  It was just due to a quirk and not due to any brilliance on my part. But that situation played out repeatedly during my life and career, and in this case, I was very conscious of the fact that I was in a unique position of becoming good friends with a genuine aviation legend.  (Our lives had a few parallels - we both had wives named Dorothy, and both Ed and my wife died from pancreatic cancer.)

Anyhow, when I arrived back at the 10-85 from the Back Forty, with my little yellow car (with the big amps and big speakers), instead of getting in, he said "I've been thinking" - as people do, trying to recreate their day's steps while trying to track down a lost object - "I think I know where the keys are. I think they're in the pocket of my raincoat. I was wearing it this morning, but I don't have it now. I think I wore it over to the EDR (Executive Dining Room - in the 10-60 HQ building across the street) and left it in the coat closet and didn't wear it when I came back from lunch. Could you go over there and retrieve it for me?"

I agreed, and headed over at a fast walk. Out the K-21 gate, (just north of the College of Jet Knowledge), across Park Ave., and then north along Park to the K-61 gate that allowed you into the 10-60 compound. Except - except, when I got there, being late, I found the K-61 locked and dark, and worse yet, peering down the alley, it looked like the K-62 at the other end was shuttered and locked as well. Bummer.


So, I retraced my steps to return to Dick waiting in the 10-85. As I walked rapidly along, I began thinking (always a dangerous activity, especially with my pea-brain), and -- using my intimate knowledge of the Renton Plant (and ALL Boeing facilities), figured out a way I could get into the 10-60 compound.


When I came to work at Boeing, my Dad always said I should pay them for working there, instead of the other way around. With my love of airplanes, being around them - either on the flight line or in the factory, was like giving a kid the keys to the candy store. And, having my Boeing badge, was just that key. Especially, in my early years, but continuing throughout my career, I always haunted the ramps and the shops.  Once a Ramp Rat, always a Ramp Rat.

  My Key to the Candy Store!

I have (somewhere) my Douglas badge as well - when I find it, I'll post it too.

One time, I remember being in a meeting with Boeing test pilot Brien Wygle, who became a great friend, and he asked me how I knew all this "stuff". I told him it was easy, just go out to the flight line and ask! In the evenings, and often late into the night, (I was single and lived close by), I would hang out with the worker bees, watching, asking questions, shooting the breeze. I had a very firm hold of the pulse of the operation.

On the flight line, there were construction like trailers between the stalls, stuffed with bar charts, O&IR's, and old, old Boeing hand-me-down desks and furniture. I spent many an hour in those watching the airplanes getting prepared for first flight or delivery and becoming friends with the supervisors and mechanics. Nobody seemed to mind or give it a second thought that I was always hanging around.

I told Brien all he had to do was go and sit in one of those trailers a few times and he'd quickly find out what the Real Story was. But, of course, he was cognizant of Boeing etiquette, and the  Chain of Command.  I was too dumb, or didn't care.  Later on, they called that MBWA - Managing By Walking Around. I did that my whole career, and not because I was trying to accomplish something - I was just interested.

Flight Line shacks

In the early 60s, while I was going to engineering college at RPI (in Troy, NY), I was working summers as an Intern at Douglas Aircraft in Los Angeles. When I was a kid, I used to send off letters to the various aircraft manufacturers (and airlines) asking for pictures etc (I still have those picture packs - all of them.) The companies were all organized to respond to kids like me. I got a series of those picture packages from Douglas and came to memorize their address - 3000 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, California. The time came in June 1963, when I flew from LGA to LAX (in a AA DC-6, making 12 stops!), and then took the bus (still no car) to that very place. I was actually reporting for work - right there! It was like going to Mecca. Standing there on the street, with a long facade, was a big office building that said Douglas Aircraft Company, and below it was 3000 Ocean Park Blvd. I was there!

I walked in to a big fancy lobby, with polished stone floors, and identified myself to the receptionist. I was a new employee! She ushered me into their induction center, where I filled out the paperwork, had my picture taken, and was issued a Badge. Just as with Boeing, that Badge was my Ticket to Ride!!! It got me in the Plant, and off-hours, I'd wander around, watching airplanes getting built and, just "stuff." My most memorable "cruise" (when all the other red-blooded guys were cruising Sunset Blvd looking for chicks) was what I think was a Saturday or Sunday night - about 8 o'clock. I went into an office building and found myself in the only room that had the lights on - it looked like the chem labs we had back at school - full of testing benches and beakers and retorts and Bunsen burners. The place was empty except for one guy who was busy working on testing something or other. I wandered over and struck up a conversation. In never one of my assorted wandering around experiences (at least in those happy days) did anyone ever say "Who are you? What are you doing here? What do you want?"

An older guy (when you're young, everyone is 'older') explained what he was doing. I barely recall, but he was testing some liquid - jet fuel, hydraulic fluid, I don't remember. We chatted for quite a while as I watched him work. After a while, another older guy came into the lab and joined us. Like me, he was just watching and chatting with the tech. And like me, the tech kept working while explaining what he was doing. At some point, I glanced at the new-comers badge. The name on it was Donald Douglas Sr.  Holy Shit!

Later on, I read that Douglas Sr. used to wander the corridors of the company that bore his name - he was another one of those MBWA guys. That was a thrill, if only after he left, since I made no sign of recognition. I asked the tech if he knew who that guy was; he had never looked at his badge and said "Nope, no idea". I really like that story.

If you want to know what's going on - that's how to do it.  Just wander around.  I remember Jim Copenhaver - Director of Engineering on the 757; Jim used to skip lunches in the EDR and eat instead in the employee cafeteria in front of the 10-80 building. He wasn't bucking for promotion.  He'd go through the chow line and then find a different group to sit with each day - picking up invaluable info without even trying. I tried to practice the same when I became Director of Quality in Materiel Division. I'd grab a soup or sandwich in the cafeteria and then return to the work area where I'd find someone eating at their desk and ask if I could join them. Every day, I'd become friends with someone new and learn what was really going on.

The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days were the Good Old Days! And this is not just an Old Fogey speaking. Go ahead -- compare "then" with "now."

I loved airplanes from my earliest recollection. Looking back, I was fortunate because my folks fed that interest. I devoured books and magazines, made scrapbooks, built models. My early years involved sojourns in Kentucky, the Bronx, New Rochelle (NY), New Orleans, Troy (NY), and Los Angeles.  I haunted the airports.  Back in the day, they aptly described me as a Ramp Rat.

Before I could drive, I could hitch hike (yes, a very viable transportation option in the Good Old Days), and before I could hitch hike, my mother used to take me to the airport - primarily LaGuardia Field in New York. She'd bring a book and sit in the waiting room, turning me (and sometimes my younger brother) loose on the aviation world. And the establishment was ready and waiting for an inquisitive kid who stuck his nose in, and asked questions. Later, a little older, I could hitch-hike there on my own, giving my mom a break, and added IDL and the White Plains airport (HPN) - to my destination list, often with my like minded pal Paul Nevai.

Here's one of many drawings I made when I was 14 years old.
Not too shabby.

One time I remember especially clearly, me and my younger brother were exploring the back offices and corridors at LGA when we came on a door with a frosted glass panel that had a Label painted on the glass. It said "GCA ROOM." I knocked and an older guy with grey hair and a grey cardigan sweater opened the door. He invited us in. There were two of them in there, each sitting in front of a pair of radar scopes. Basically, they were the TRACON of the day and were controlling and talking to the pilots of the various airplanes approaching and departing. We spent several hours in there and the old guys were very welcoming and generous with their time explaining everything that was going on. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Here I am in 1959 - age 15 at White Plains Airport (KHPN) watching the Blue Angels flying Grumman F9F-8s.
Four years later, I soloed from HPN and got my pilot's license there as well.


Armed Forces Day meant an open house at Mitchel AFB - a long ways to hitch hike!
 Sitting in the left seat of a USAF C-124

At Idlewild, first I'd hang out on Jamaica Blvd., taking pictures of the airplanes landing on Rwys 22 or the old 25, like this KLM Super G Constellation.

While living in Los Angeles, Aviation Blvd became my favorite haunt - sitting on the railroad tracks adjacent to the runways at LAX.  My good friend, aviation historian and writer, Jon Proctor (dec.) told me he used to sit on those same tracks - and in the same time period.  We probably were sitting there together!

The "LAX Tracks"


I'd freely roam the ramps and hangars (Zero Security in those days!!!) and mech's would even take me around, and I'd sit in the cockpit of live airplanes (mostly Connies and DC-6s) in the hangar, with the power on and all the gauges lit, and just sort of "study" everything. Made humming noises and pretended I was a TWA Capt flying that Super G.  That was my ambition.  Watched them work on the engines and always taking lots of pictures.

   Exploring the cockpit of an Eastern Electra


A Seaboard & Western Connie leased to Irish Air Lines


   a Mohawk Convair

Fences?  What fences?

Picture taking opportunities abounded, I've always been an avid photographer, and those were also the days with Observation Decks.

The IAB (International Arrivals Building) at Idlewild (now JFK) was terrific.



The Golden Age of Propliners - just before the jets arrived

A few years later, the IAB ramp looked completely different!

One time I spent a few hours in the IDL/JFK Tower, which was part of the IAB complex at the time. As I wandered the terminal (no security, of course), I came on a door. Adjacent to it was a doorbell with a sign that read Control Tower. So, I pushed the bell. Presently a voice answered and I asked if I could visit. The buzzer rang, the door unlocked, and I climbed the stairs up into the Tower Cab where I spent a few hours. Have you tried getting into any FAA facility in the last 20 years?  Good luck!

Here's the Control Tower after 1963 when IDL became JFK
Not only was there a great Observation Deck, but those were the days before Jetways!

Sometimes, the Observation Decks didn't give you a good enough up-close view.  So?  About 1959, when I was all grown up (at 15), we'd wander the runways and taxiways at IDL, taking pictures of airplanes coming and going from really up close. It seemed obvious (to me) that you wanted pictures "up close" and without a bunch of ground equipment cluttering the scene.   I recall a couple of times when PNYA (Port of New York Authority) police would approach in patrol cars and ask what we were doing. We told them, "We're just taking pictures", and they would admonish us to "be careful".   Never anything like "Get out of here", or worse yet "Get in the back of the police car, kid.  You're going down to Juvenile Hall."   Of course, we were careful.  We'd wait until a landing aircraft was well passed before we'd run like hell to get to other side.  We were no dummies!   I know, I know, such stories defy current comprehension, but they are all true - and here's a few pix to prove it.

An Eastern Connie

Here's a TWA L-1649 Connie coming down old Runway 19R.


  Friendly wave to the pilots -- got a wave back.

If you tried that today, you'd get intercepted by 10 SWAT Teams and the whole airport would probably be shutdown for 6 hours!  CNN would break into their regular show with Breaking News!

I'm so glad I have my pictures to keep from being called a Liar.

One of our most exciting days came when we arrived and saw our first jet!!!
It was May 16, 1959, and American had an almost brand new 707 parked on their hangar ramp.

Of course, we took a walk across the ramp for an up-close look!
Better not try that today.....

N7503A - just 3 months old

Yes - the Good Old Days WERE the Good Old Days!

Hard to believe - but just 8 years later, I was the Boeing Field Rep at JFK, taking care of those 707s.....


Throughout my Boeing career, I'd spend as much time as possible wandering the factories and flight lines. I think I said that already.  In Renton, I had an office on the 7th floor of an office building that over-looked the Renton Airport. Many a time I would stop a meeting in progress to watch the First Flight take-off of a new airplane. (Because of a short runway, in general all Boeing flights from Renton were First Flights, with the airplanes making their first landings over at Boeing Field.)  If my office visitors were new-comers, they could expect my usual excited tour guide speech about the miracle of flight and the miracle of building airplanes. You see, I'd explain, up until that moment - those were not airplanes, but just machines, a bunch of aluminum, steel, glass and rubber, etc that had gone through this long and complex design, manufacturing, assembly, and testing process. But now, as they roared down the runway, the pilot pulled back on the yoke and they lifted into the sky for the first time, they became something else altogether. They became airplanes (I felt exactly the same when I flew my own airplane for the first time - one I had built with my own hands.)

Later on, we moved to a three building complex in Lynnwood, south of Everett - far removed from any factory or airfield and I felt a big void in my aviation world. But, one I could still fill, as I stopped in the Everett Plant on the way home nearly every night - especially when the new 777 was being assembled.

One has to be aware of the fact that Boeing operated in many ways like a military organization. Especially vis-a-vis the Chain of Command, and especially, --  especially --  regarding facility visits. In other words, management - particularly upper management - of which I was now considered a part, were not to "visit" without pre-notifications and pre-approvals. I never subscribed to that scheme and so got cross-wise with some of the people running those factories. T. Wilson (Boeing President) never followed that dictum, and so why should I? (Oh!  He was President?  So what.)  Numerous times in my Boeing career, I would answer the phone and it would be "T" on the other end, asking a question or giving me an assignment, completely outside my official job description or assigned duties, and, of course, without ever checking first with my boss. T knew people all over the company, what they could do for him, and regularly cut through a dozen management layers to connect directly with whoever he thought could do a job for him. My boss for a long time, Jim Blue, operated on the exact same wavelength. And, of course, as I mentioned earlier, so did Donald Douglas Sr.

But - and a big but - I was not President of the company (yet) or even a Vice-President, so my wandering around tendencies were not always viewed, er... favorably. Sometimes, I had no other choice - and here's one example. About 1986, I was Director of Quality Assurance for Boeing Commercial - working for Jim Blue who was Vice-President. It was purely a Staff job and I had zero people working for me. One day, I got a call from a man named Case Polderman. He was a big outgoing Dutchman and was the factory rep for KLM. KLM had their very first 737 going down the production line. This was a big deal, because KLM was a decades long steady customer of Douglas and had a fleet of DC-9s that they were going to replace with 737s. He was upset about something and asked me to meet him at his airplane in the factory. (Big airlines assigned factory reps to the manufacturer to monitor the progress of their airplanes during production. In general, when they saw something they didn't like, they wrote a "Customer Pick-up" which entered into the QC/QA system for rectification - similar to a Boeing generated Pick-up.)

At the airplane, he accompanied me inside and was quite agitated, complaining about the poor "house-keeping", the damage to his airplane, and the non-responsiveness of the factory Ops and QA organizations to his written complaints. Specifically, he was upset about the airplane floors. The floors - at one time in the early days, they were plywood - were a high tech solution that increased strength, rigidity and reduced weight. They were built from fiberglass skins that sandwiched honeycomb cores, and were fastened to the airplane's floor beam and seat track grid with standard Boeing BAC cad-plated countersunk head screws with Phillips drive cross-slots.

 A BAC Phillips-head, counter sunk, CAD-plated steel screw similar to the ones used on the floor panels

After the floor panels were installed, the floor was covered with long rolls of ribbed rubber protection sheets. But, often those floor panels would have to be lifted to access something beneath the floor. To do it correctly, the screws would be placed in a cloth sack, closed by a string that would be tied to one of the floor panel attachment holes. But that was not always followed. In this case, many of the rubber sheets were not even installed, nor were the screws bagged, but instead the screws were lying loose all over the unprotected floors. The countersunk screw heads were sharp and being stepped on by mechanics everywhere. They then dimpled, creased, or actually cracked through the upper fiberglas skin. In service, the floor was covered with rolls of carpeting, but any holes would admit liquids, which would enter into the honeycomb core, and especially in freezing weather, dis-bond the panel lower skins from the core, creating at a minimum, soft spots in the floor panel (you may have noticed those soft spots boarding or leaving from a flight.)

His continual complaints to the factory management had not resulted in any changes, so he called me. So I got hold of Duane Wendt, who was Renton QA Director, and Jim Merz, who was Factory Manager (Ops Director.) Although I knew them quite well, neither of them were really as interested in fixing KLM's complaint as they were in taking offense at my being in "their" factory, unannounced, unapproved, unescorted, and dealing directly with the customer. I had broken the unwritten protocol and violated the Chain of Command. They were unhappy enough that next I was summoned to a personal meeting with Bruce Gissing, in his office. Bruce (who is now a very good and close friend) was the Division Vice-President - the Big Boss. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was to "stay out of his factories."

Of course, I put that into the Category of "Let no good deed go unpunished", figured being responsive to the customer was paramount, and so ignored all their protestations. These days, they'd say I probably wasn't a good "Team Player." Meaning Go with the Flow, even if the Flow was in the wrong direction. Came a right proper ending to this little escapade however: KLM had a big celebratory dinner to mark the Delivery of their first 737. Me and my wife Dot were invited, and when we got there, we found our names on those little cards on the dinner plates. We were on the dais, right next to the speaker and podium which was in the middle. On the other side were Bruce Gissing and his wife Edythe. I think Case knew what was going on and planned to have a bit of fun and maybe his own revenge. Bruce looked at me with a bit of fire in his eyes and asked what I was doing there? I smiled, shrugged and told him to ask Case Polderman - it was his party!

The Keys

Perchance, do you remember what we were talking about when I so rudely began to ramble?  Sorry - another gene defect.   Yes, the story thus far - I was looking for Dick Taylor's car keys and had been skunked from getting into the 10-60 building because the guard gate was closed and locked.

So, as I retraced my steps back to the 10-85 to tell Dick the bad news, I noticed the sky bridge that crossed Park Avenue from east to west. Sure - the light bulb went off - I could cross via the sky bridge and get into the 10-60 while still staying inside the plant.  My intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny of the plant was about to pay off!  So, re-entering at the K-21 gate, I turned right (north) instead of left back to the 10-85. I entered the 10-50 building complex. That was where Boeing assembled big subassemblies (called Major Assy, as opposed to Final Assy) - the 727 tail sections in the early days, later 757 43 and 46 barrel sections. I walked past hanging skin panels with window belts and hurried to the dark east end, where, up in the balcony, was the Wire Shop. It consisted of long tables with layouts, markings, and wiring pin fixtures. Wire would be spun off big reels, run through a wire marker, and then laid out in the appropriate lengths and routings. When all the wires were in place, the wires were laced, then terminated in canon plugs, continuity tested, then the whole assembly, which was now a wire bundle (loom for the Brits) would be coiled up on a reel which would be moved into the airplane, unreeled, and attached to the airplane structure.

On the east end of the wire shop balcony were a set of double doors that led to the sky bridge crossing Park Avenue. It was not well marked or well-known, but I knew all this stuff because of my years of wandering the factories. I crossed the sky bridge over Park Ave. and into the 10-65 building, better known as the Mock-up Shop. There, airplane sections, large and small, and even what appeared to be complete airplanes resided - most made out of plywood. In the days before computers and 3-D simulations etc, that's how we built airplanes.

From the sky bridge, you had to descend two flights of stairs onto the Mock-up Shop floor, south along the shop's west walkway, and then up two more flights of stairs into the Sales Graphics area. This is where skilled designers created a wide range of sales materials from simple brochures to displays for air shows. Traversing Sales Graphics, I was able to cross yet another short sky bridge - this crossed south across an alley and into the 10-60 building - Headquarters - and it exited right next to the entry doors to the EDR.

Finally - my goal was in sight! Or was it? Inside the EDR doors was a foyer, with a cloakroom to the right, and to the left a long skinny coat closet with two rows of coat rods and dozens of hangers. I grabbed the EDR entrance door knob to enter - and - and it was locked! Yes, I had gotten this far, through ingenuity and superior knowledge, and I was being foiled in the end by a damn door lock. Now who would possibly want to lock up the EDR at night I thought, and contemplated if there were any other solutions. Maybe I could enter an unlocked exec's office and traverse the inside patio? That would be quite risky. Did I have to return to Dick empty-handed? Sure looked like it, when another light bulb went off. There was another entrance. Yes, down the left side at the back, there was an entrance leading into the kitchen. I often saw them bringing catering supplies through that door while the cooks and wait-staff took smoke breaks (remember those?) nearby. I proceeded down the aisle to that door, turned the knob - and -- it was OPEN!!! I felt every bit as smart as 007 out-foxing Goldfinger. I then proceeded through the kitchen, across the dark and empty dining room, out into the foyer, turned right into the long coat closet, -- which was empty.... Except, in the dim lite, I saw something hanging on the left side way down at the end. I moved through the closet, and there was a raincoat - surely Dick's raincoat. I reached into the pocket and sure enough, there were his keys. I'd done it!!!  By God, I'd done it!

Incredibly proud of myself - it was a case of mind over matter, Dick's - in remembering where they might be, and mine in knowing how to navigate through the great aircraft plant - mostly in the dark. I visualized my triumphant return. When suddenly - suddenly - a beam of light flashed down the long darkened closet and into my eyes - blinding me. I just about shit my pants on the spot. I held up my hand to block the strong beam. Somebody gruffly asked what I was doing there and snapped on the closet light. It was a Boeing Security Guard and he was holding a big flashlight and he was asking me what I was doing there - there, in the long closet, in the locked EDR, with my hands full of keys pulled from a raincoat. BUSTED!

"What are you doing here?" he asked. "Is that your raincoat?" I hadn't seen a single person during this whole escapade and could hardly speak, but some loud squeeks finally came out as I tried to explain the circumstances that brought me into this very compromising position. Where did this guy come from, and how come I didn't see or hear him? I thought to myself. Eventually, he looked at my badge, maybe made some notes, and bought into my story. Grudgingly. I suggested he could call Taylor, who hopefully was in his office and not standing in the parking lot. But, he didn't.

So, with keys and raincoat in hand, I beat a hasty retreat - back down the hall to the first sky bridge, over into the 10-65, across through Sales Graphics - down two flights, through the Mock-Up shop, up two more flights of stairs, across the big sky bridge, through the Wire Shop, back down two flights, across the darkened 10-54 factory floor, across the parking lot, back into the 10-85 and down to Dick's office. Needless to say, this whole adventure had taken more than a bit of time, while Dick sat there getting more and more impatient. He figured he had given me a simple job and I was a regular Step-and-Fetch-It screw-off taking 30-40 minutes to do a five minute job.

I gave him the raincoat, with the keys, and mumbled something about it being a lot tougher than I thought because things were locked up, but I never did tell him the whole story. He left, I called Dot again, to tell her I would be even more late.

And so that's the story of The Keys - the unexpurgated, long-winded version.  But --  I did get an EX Executive Parking Pass and an assigned spot out of this little adventure..... and I didn't have to ask for it.

Copyright 2021 Robert Bogash.  All Rights Reserved