Monday, December 31, 2007
Flying Tiger Line
The story goes that John Wayne adopted the nickname "Duke" after working on the movie "Flying Tigers". Duke Hedman, the premiere ace of the Korean War Flying Tigers acted as an adviser on the movie. If it isn't true it should be. i wish I had known this bit of trivia when I flew with Duke Hedman back in the 1960's when he was a Captain with Flying Tiger Line. My dad worked for Flying Tigers so I flew a lot back in the days. Being a freight airline I sat and slept behind the crew in the cockpit. I loved the noise and the motion of the Lockheed Connie in the picture above. Flying from Los Angeles to Cleveland was a little longer trip back then. Chicago and Detroit were the usual stop overs. One day I got to sit in the co-pilots seat while we were flying from Chicago to Cleveland. Imagine my surprise when I touched the wheel and the plane banked a bit. To this day I don't know if the pilot was having fun with me or it was the auto pilot. I do remember we were over the Great Lakes at the time.
For the curious there is a picture of Duke Hedman on my Flickr (Link to the right of this page) sight. He is in a photo with Robert Prescott, my dad and few Tigers who are receiving their 25 year plaques back in 1975. There is also a link to the Flying Tiger Pilots Association. There are many old photos as well as updates by Flying Tiger employees.
Speaking of famous old pilot's I can drop the name of Bud Gurney. Mr. Gurney used to barnstorm with Charles Lindbergh. He was in one of my dad's Masonic lodges. His daughter was an active member of an equestrian stable in the San Fernando Valley and my parents used to go watch her practice and compete. I met Mr. Gurney a few times but never had the chance to ask about his flying days. There is a little information about him scattered around the internet and a few small pictures. If you have seen the movie about Lindberg starring Jimmy Stewart you will see Mr. Gurney being portrayed by Murray Hamilton.