We need too spend more time remembering old friends and I wish I had spent more time talking to some of them now flown West. As I have been going through some pictures of the past reunions. I found a picture of Gene Martin, taken at one of the last Prescott Reunions. Gene passed away shortly after and I did not know how sick he had been. I remember we elected or kind of railroaded him as Sec/Treasurer at the Seal beach reunion and although I am not to sure how much he wanted the job, it was typical Gene not to complain and do the best job he knew how. He always had something good to say about people and he worked very hard in his last days for us.
My connection to him had started before either his or my employment with Tigers and I looked up in my Log Book, sure enough Gene Martin, March 8, 1965, Cessna 150 6665T HHR-LCL preparation for Commercial Pilot. Sure enough Gene had come out to take flight instruction at Progressive Flying Service and told me he was going to be an Airline pilot. Right, I thought he is just learning to fly and in his thirties, an unheard of old age in 1964. Here I am early twenties all kinds of time and ratings and can't get a job. But he was determined and we flew almost daily.
Many Tiger pilots came out of Progressive, I think we had a guardian angel there in Barney South the manager who instilled all sorts of things in our early education about things like flying and girls, his favorite at the time was how Charlie Brown was been dealt with by Lucy. I think he viewed us fledgling aviators the same way. When it came time to get his recommendation, he must have had an in with the airlines because all the instructors seemed to be accepted by Western, United and especially Tigers. Ah remember how young we were and the world of becoming an Airline Pilot was so exciting.
Back to Gene. I was hired by Tigers in January 1966, and low and behold a few years later there in a crew room somewhere was Gene Martin in a Tiger uniform. I didn't believe my eyes, he had overcome the odds of age and experience and through his persistence had became a Tiger. I do recall a rather amusing story somewhere that after a few years, on a check ride someone asked about his instrument rating and he said something about I didn't know you needed one of those. Maybe someone can remember and supply the details. Any way I had the privilege of his friendship during our years with Tigers and is one of the people I miss very much. Come to the reunions and talk to your old friends, we are very close.
MikeBack To Memorials