Archive for July, 2009

Lissa Myers Wolfe – Daughter to Johnny Myers

July 20, 2009
Lissa Myers Wolfe with Director RJ McHatton

Lissa Myers Wolfe with Director RJ McHatton

We drove to Pismo Beach to meet with Johnny Myers only daughter, Lissa and her son William.  Lissa was very nice to us.  She led us to her garage where there were tons of boxes full of photos, newspaper clippings, and memories of John and Lucia Myers.  We spent the afternoon shooting and capturing digital versions of all the incredible memorabilia.  Looking through the boxes brought back a lot of memories for Lissa.  As we went photo by photo, Lissa was kind enough to tell us incredible stories behind each moment that the photograghs had captured with Johnny Myers.  Lissa told us stories about Johnny’s father,  her grandfather, who was a Justice on the California Supreme Court.  She talked about her parents and her older brother Lou, who had passed away many years ago.  She showed us some great photos from Johnny Myers career as a test pilot, and a terrific shot of Johnny as a kid on a horse when he was going to the prep school Thacher.  She talked about Johnny’s love for polo and for flying.  Lissa told us about how she learned to fly when she was only 15.   Her eyes lit up and then filled with tears as we started looking through a massive collection of beautiful photos of her mother Lucia.  Lucia was a stunning, strong woman who was on the board of several large organizations including Bank of America, at a time when there weren’t many women on Boards.  Lissa showed us a large book from Northrop with lots of great stories about the test pilot days of Johnny Myers when he was testing the P-61 Night Fighter and the experimental Flying Wing.  There were some incredible pictures of when Johnny Myers saved the life of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.  We are very thankful to Lissa for allowing us to come into her home and to go through all her boxes.  Our next return trip here will be to interview Lissa for our documentary “The Flying Man:  Life and Times of Johnny Myers.”  To learn more about this project, go to www.flyingmandocumentary.com

Cleo & Carroll Shelby – Automotive Racing, Aviation Legend – Friend of Johnny Myers

July 18, 2009
Cleo & Carroll Shelby with Director RJ McHatton

Cleo & Carroll Shelby with Director RJ McHatton

All you need to do is type in the words “Shelby Cobra” into youtube and you will see first hand the incredible Automotive classic cars that Carroll Shelby has designed and built ever since in the 60s.  Cobras and Vipers and more.  Carroll has been an aviator since the 1930s when he paid one dollar to fly in a bi-plane.  During WWII Carroll was a training flight instructor for the US Army Air Corp.  He has been flying all through out his career.

We were there to interview Carroll Shelby and his beautiful wife Cleo for our documentary “The Flying Man:  Life and Times of Johnny Myers.”   Carroll and Cleo have become great friends of Johnny Myers over the last dozen or so years.  They had spent time with John up at his ranch in Merced, California and on several other trips, including one at the giant Oshkosh Aviation Celebration.  Cleo told some great stories about how John Myers was very inspirational for her learning how to fly.  John was a major influence to her.  Carroll talked about his friendship with John Myers and how they really respected each other.  He said that John was so humble, that it took a lot to get John Myers to talk about his legendary flying skills.  He talked about John Myers’ sense of humor and his always being a gentleman.

I really enjoyed meeting and interviewing Carroll Shelby and his wife Cleo.  They both remind me about the importance of appreciation.  Carroll talked about how he has some other man’s heart in his chest.  He had a heart transplant many years ago.  He said he was very appreciative of every moment he has on this earth.  Cleo and Carroll talked about how they met.  They are a great couple.  Carroll told me so awesome stories about his relationship with his father.  How his father had encouraged him to go for his dreams.  The message for me is to try to be a better “encourager” to others and to be more “appreciative” of life.

Thank you Cleo and Carroll Shelby for a fantastic time together.

To learn more about our new documentary “The Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers” go to

www.flyingmandocumentary.com

You can learn more about Carroll Shelby at www.carrollshelby.com

Here is a great artist rendering of Cleo with Carroll Shelby. http://www.kevingearyportraits.com/Gallery/pages/CarrollShelby.htm

Tom Jones – former CEO of Northrop, Friend to Johnny Myers

July 14, 2009
Director RJ McHatton with Tom Jones

Director RJ McHatton with Tom Jones

Tom Jones was very clear.  He did not want to talk about anything where he wasn’t actually there.  Tom said that he would be happy to talk about John Myers because he was a “Friend for Life.”  Tom Jones has led a very interesting life, including many years as CEO of Northrop Grumman.  But today we were there to interview Tom about his good friend Johnny Myers for our new documentary “The Flying Man–The Life and Times of Johnny Myers.”  I was hoping that Tom would be able to give us some insight into Johnny Myers’ years working for Northrop.  But it is easy to forget that Johnny Myers lived to be way over 90 years old.  Tom really didn’t want to talk about those days.  He wanted to talk about John Myers, the man.  Tom said that he couldn’t pinpoint the first time he met John Myers because he seemed that they had lived their whole life as friends.  John and Tom were in many clubs and organizations together.  We talked about how John used to go to the Country Club a lot but that he did not play golf.  John wanted to see his friends.  Tom talked about how much John loved his wife Lucia.  He said that Lucia was a beautiful and wonderful wife to John Myers.  Tom told me some great stories about John Myers and how he was truly a remarkable human being.  Tom said that John Myers was a gentleman, a person with impecable integrity and strong will.  Tom said that John Myers was the kind of man you looked up to, someone who always had a great attitude about life and was always looking for ways to help others.  I could tell that Tom Jone was a life-long friend of John Myers and that they both had some common traits – including kindness and respect for others.  I really enjoyed my interview with Tom Jones.  He is a real nice man.

Eric Rhoads – Personal Jet & Helicopter Pilot for Johnny Myers

July 14, 2009
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Director RJ McHatton with pilot Eric Rhoads

Eric Rhoads is a lucky guy.  He was hired to be the personal jet and helicopter pilot for the legendary aviator and businessman Johnny Myers.  We drove down to Redondo Beach to meet with Eric for our new documentary “The Flying Man” about the Life and Times of Johnny Myers.  Eric sat down and started grinning as he remembered “Myers” as he called him.  Eric first met John Myers about three years before he died, when Eric was hired to be his pilot.  Over the years they became good friends.  Eric said that his life was changed for the better because of the wisdom and character and integrity he learned from John Myers.  Eric said that “Myers” was a “hand-shake” type of a guy.  Someone who was bigger than life, someone who once he became your friend, you could count on being a friend for life.  Eric talked about John’s love for the outdoors and for his dog Gus.  He told great stories about flying with John Myers and Gus.   He said that John Myers might not be well known in the general population community, but that among the pilot friends he knew, John Myers was a true to life hero.  Eric said that everywhere he went, he saw how people lit up with enthusiasm when they met John Myers.  Eric said that John was well respected among people all around the world.  Eric talked about when he flew with John to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.  when they introduced the P-61 Black Widow Night Fighter that John Myers was the original test pilot.  He talked about the man he was fortunate to call friend.  Eric talked about his many tripw with John Myers up to the Flying M Ranch in Merced, where John ran a real cattle ranch.  He said that John Myers loved cattle and ranching.  We talked about John Myers love for boating up at Big Bear and his joy for driving fast cars.  Overall Eric kept talking about the wisdom and integrity and character of John Myers.  He talked about the good friendships that John Myers had built up over a lifetime well into his 90s.  He talked about the last time John Myers flew a helicopter and how thrilling it was to see the master fly it perfectly.  I could tell that Eric enjoyed his time with John Myers and that he would never forget the lessons he learned from that tall man with the dog.

Peter Allen – Morgan Stanley, Close friend of John Myers

July 14, 2009
Peter Allen with director RJ McHatton

Peter Allen with director RJ McHatton

Over fifteen years ago, Peter Allen became good friends with Lou Myers and his father John.  They did a lot of outdoors adventures together.  When Lou Myers passed away, it was only natural that Peter Allen would become even closer to John Myers.  We met Peter Allen at the California Club in downtown Los Angeles.  The California Club has tremendous history and it was a big part of John Myers life.   He had a lot of friends there.  We were there to interview Peter Allen for our new documentary “The Flying Man” about the Life and Times of Johnny Myers.  Peter told us some great stories about John Myers and about his great wisdom and positive outlook on life.  John Myers had a genuine charisma about him.  People always liked John Myers because he was a gentle giant of a man.  Someone with humility, with kindness, with a great instinct about people.  Peter Allen told us about some of his great trips with John Myers over the years.  About John’s love for his dog Gus, and for aviation.   Peter was the last person to see John alive.  I really appreciate the hospitality and generosity Peter gave to us during our interview.

Paul Thayer – Friend of Johnny Myers “The Flying Man”

July 13, 2009

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Paul Thayer watching a video of his good friend Johnny Myers


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RJ McHatton with Paul Thayer

We drove to Southern California to interview Paul Thayer about his friend Johnny Myers for our documentary “The Flying Man.”  Paul is a great guy.  He sat down with me and we talked about how he met Johnny Myers.  Paul was a Fighter Pilot during World War II.  He served in the North Africa campaign and then was quickly sent over to Guadacanal.  After the war Paul worked at an airline where he met his wife Margery.   Paul eventually got a job as an insurance sales man.  Then one day Margery saw an advertisement that a company was looking for Test Pilots.  Over 1800 people applied for the job but Paul Thayer got the job.  That is where Paul met John Myers.  Thayer worked under John at Northrop.  Paul talked about how great a man Johnny Myers was.  He said that Myers was a man of integrity.  Paul told me some great stories about how he and Johnny Myers flew a P-61 Black Widow one time.  He talked about how John Myers nearly died during the testing period of the Flying Wing.  Paul told some great stories about how he and Johnny Myers and Jack Northrop worked together.  We talked about how in later years John Myers became a successful businessman.  He talked about some of the clubs they both belonged to over the years.  Paul told me how much John loved his wife Lucia and how painful it was to lose Lucia.

Everytime our discussion went to stories of flying, Paul’s eyes would light up.  I could tell that Paul loved aviation.  He talked about Johnny Myers love for fast cars and fast boats.  He also talked about John’s love for his dogs.  I was really impressed by my interview with Paul Thayer.  He is a very nice man.  I have learned that Paul once was Under-Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan.  I asked him about Ronald Reagan.  He said that Reagan and John Myers were similar in many ways.  I asked him if Johnny Myers was a good guy.  He said that he was more than a good guy.  He was a remarkable man.  Thank you, Paul Thayer, for letting me interview you for our documentary.

Paul Kim – architect, brother of Dr. Luke Kim

July 13, 2009

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Dr. Luke Kim, Grace Kim, Paul Kim, and RJ McHatton

We drove down to Seal Beach to connect with Dr. Luke Kim and his beautiful wife Grace.  We were looking forward to a wonderful dinner with the Kims and also to interviewing Luke’s younger brother Paul Kim.  Paul was to give us an interview as part of my production of the Video Biography of Dr. Luke and Grace Kim.

Paul gave me a terrific interview.  He talked about his childhood in Korea during the Korean War and how his family became refugees.  He told me the horrific tale of the kidnapping and murder by the Communists.  Paul also talked about how his older brother Luke helped lead his brothers and sister to safety during the war.  Today Paul is a well-respected architect.

One of the best parts of Paul’s interview was when he talked about how his brothers and sister would all sing together.  He talked about how when his family was walking miles and miles to the South to escape the tyranny of the oncoming Communist forces, that he and his family sang hymns, songs to keep them together.  It is remarkable how music has been so important to the lives of so many people.  The courage and tenacity of the Kims inspires me.  Every time I meet with Grace Kim I feel determined that I need to do more to help others.  Grace and Luke show me how each of us can make a difference in other people’s lives.  I first met Luke and Kim about five years ago when I was making my documentary “SHip of Miracles” about the Hungnam evacuation during Christmas 1950 in Korea.  The Kims were there when 100,000 refugees were saved by the American and UN forces.   Luke and Grace are extra proud these days.  Their son David just went back to Washington DC.  David was appointed to a very high position in President Obama’s Department of Transportation.

It was another wonderful evening with the Kims.  Thanks Paul Kim for letting me interview you for your brother’s Video Biography.

Bill Tilley – Friend of Johnny Myers

July 13, 2009

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RJ with Bill Tilley

The GPS on my cell phone said to turn right and go up the hill. The road was narrowing and very windy all the way up to the top and the view became incredible. We were on our way to meet Bill Tilley, one of the last people to see Johnny Myers before he died. I would say that Bill Tilley is a Renaissance man. His home is like a castle with a remarkable view. When we arrived, Bill led us to a large room he calls the “Museum” because of all the interesting displays on all the walls. As we set up our cameras and lights and sound equipment we were mesmerized by numerous heads of big game trophies including bears, elk, big horn sheep, and more, way more.

Bill Tilley gave me a terrific interview. He talked about his enduring friendship with Johnny Myers. He looked up to Johnny Myers, not only because Johnny Myers was a tall man, but because he was a great man. Bill Tilley told me some incredible stories of the special moments he had experienced with Mr. Myers over the years. He told me the stories that Johnny had told him about when he knew Howard Hughes, the time Johnny Myers saved the life of Charles Lindbergh, and intriguing tales of Johnny’s test pilot days.

Bill also was able to tell me a little about Johnny Myers business career after the war and his philosophies about people. He told me that Johnny Myers really cared for other people. Bill told me about how Johnny Myers was totally in love with his wife Lucia and how they were such a wonderful couple.

Thanks, Bill Tilley, for taking the time to discuss your friendship with Johnny Myers.

An Interview with Clay Lacy

July 12, 2009

 

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Clay Lacy with director RJ McHatton

I drove down to Southern California to do several interviews for my documentary, “The Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” I first met Clay Lacy last December when I interviewed him for a short video we made for the “Legends of Aviation” celebration. That time Clay was very kind to me, driving me around his hangars and showing me some of his collection of very cool airplanes.

This time I was dedicated to getting an interview with Clay Lacy, asking him to talk about his good friend Johnny Myers for my new documentary, “The Flying Man.”

Clay Lacy is considered as one of the greatest aviators of all time. I have been told several times by several people that Clay has the most hours as a pilot among living aviators. Some say he has over 50,000 hours, some say its over 70,o00. Everyone agrees that Clay Lacy is a nice guy.

During our interview, Clay told some wonderful tales about his longtime friendship with Johnny Myers. He talked about how Johnny Myers saved Charles Lindbergh’s life. He told me about the days when Johnny Myers was the courageous test pilot of the P-61 Black Widow Night Fighter and the innovative but super dangerous Flying Wing.

The best stories from Clay Lacy came when he talked about how much Johnny Myers meant to him as a good friend. Over the years they had so many wonderful times together. Clay talked about the qualities of character and integrity that came natural to Johnny Myers.

In the end, I am so grateful for having been able to meet and interview Clay Lacy. He is the man who worked with Bill Lear and the aviator who did a lot of the aerial photography for big movies like “Top Gun” and “The Right Stuff.” Clay talked about how pilots are honest people. The more pilots I meet and interview, the more I begin to understand what he means. Men like Clay Lacy are the type of man we look up to and the type of man we need more of. Heroic, courageous, living life to the fullest.

Thank you, Clay Lacy, for your generosity.  I would love to do your video biography some day.

You can learn more about Clay Lacy at www.claylacy.com

 

Janice Merriweather – Interview for our documentary “The Flying Man, Life and Times of Johnny Myers”

July 12, 2009

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Janice Merriweather

Janice Merriweather worked for Johnny Myers for over 26 years.  We drove down to the Long Beach Airport to the former office of Johnny Myers to interview Janice for our new documentary “The Flying Man” about the life and times of Johnny Myers.  John Myers was a legendary test pilot who did “First Flight” testing on the famous Black Widow P-61 and the Flying Wing.   In later years Myers was a successful businessman in the aviation industry.

Janice showed us John Myers’ office which has the best view of an airport I have ever seen.  As you walk into his office you can see a fantastic array of models of several different kinds of airplanes from WWII to jets.  Janice told us that John Myers these were some of the aircraft that Mr. Myers flew in his career.

Janice did a wonderful interview, telling fantastic stories about her years working with Mr. Myers.  She told me about the integrity and character of Mr. Myers.  He was a rare person.  A man with values.

We really appreciate Janice Merriweather’s help with our documentary.