David Price – CEO American Airports, Aviator, Friend to Johnny Myers

 

David Price with Director RJ McHatton

David Price with Director RJ McHatton

It was a beautiful day in Santa Monica.  I was there to interview David Price for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.”  David Price is a very nice guy.  I could tell that immediately.  He came from very humble beginnings to become a very successful businessman, aviator, and spiritual inspiration to many people.  David Price is the CEO of American Airports, the largest developer and operator of airports in the country.  He was the founder of American Golf Corp which managed over 300 golf courses.  He also is the founder of a Christian school and  the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica.  During our interview, David was awesome.  He showed me some airplane models all over his office.  These were models of all the different planes he has flown.  David’s eyes lit up when talking about each plane.  As we toured his office, David showed me his diploma certificate when he graduated from UCLA law school, pictures of his time as an attorney for O’Melveny & Myers, and he was very proud of a bell from the USS Arizona from Pearl Harbor.  As we sat down for the interview David reminisced about his friend John Myers.  I couldn’t get the camera started fast enough.  David was moved by him memories.  We talked a bit about his own life.  David really is a self-made man.  He came from humble beginnings. He is the son of Welsh immigrants  but did go to college studying economics at USC and then went to law school at UCLA.  He was a US Navy pilot  during the early 1950s.  He missed the Korean War, but clocked in lots of flying time as flight instructor.  He talked about his childhood in the Santa Monica area where Lockheed was building airplanes for the war.  He remembered seeing all the pilots in their flight suits.  This was where he probably got the bug for aviation.  He remembered all the cool interesting airplanes he saw in his youth. David talked about his first solo flight in an airplane.  That is a moment that most pilots will never forget.  David talked about his love for airplanes, especially those planes from WWII.  He owns a few now and tries to fly as much as possible.  He talked about his flying in the Reno Air Races and about the tremendous friends he has met through aviation, including his friend General Bill Anders.   I asked David to talk about those days at O’Melveny & Myers, his first law firm experience.  He talked about the incredible fundamental values he learned from those days.  He said they were very professional, efficient, and extremely dedicated to honest day work ethic.  Over the years David enjoyed working with many of the Hollywood celebrities who were clients of O’Melveny & Meyers.  He told stories about working with movie stars like Marlon Brando and Bing Crosby.  He talked about working with actor William Holden and negotiating the pay for his role in “Bridge Over the River Kwai.”  David told about his blessings to have met and learned from some wonderful mentors over the years. He talked about a turning point in his life when he met Joseph Drown, a local businessman and real estate investor.  He quit the law firm and went to work with Drown, which led him to leadership positions in several businesses like Getty Financial Corp, Beachcomber restaurants and the Bel Air Hotel.  Then David went into the Golf business and the rest is history.  During our interview, it was very interesting to me how David Price could recite Shakespeare and quotes from the Bible.  We talked about John Myers and his being such a great friend to so many.  We talked about how John Myers had so many friends that did not know each other.  I mentioned this might be the best legacy a man could have, to have touched so many in so many different ways.  David told me how he got to know John initially through John’s wife Lucia.    Lucia was a remarkable woman in her own right.  She was on the Board of Directors of Bank America for a long time.  David talked about times with John Myers at the Sunset Club and at Bohemian Grove and at the LA Country Club.  He talked about flying with John in his helicopter in Merced and about thier common love for aviation.  I was very touched by my interview with David Price.  He is a nice guy.  He is a true lover of aviation.  David Price a self-made man who reads the Bible, can recite Shakespeare, and loves to race WWII airplanes for fun.

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2 Responses to “David Price – CEO American Airports, Aviator, Friend to Johnny Myers”

  1. Don Skinner Says:

    I tried to visit Musenm of Flying in September last. The signs led me to it but it was not open & apparently hadn’t been of years.
    I had visited it 10 years ago & loved it so I was disappointed.
    Can someone tell me when it will definitely reopen & will the artistry of R, G. Smith still be on display. Especially his mammoth Douglas DT Navy float plane.
    Come on David, I don’t want to waste another trip down there.

    Don Skinner, Calgary AB

  2. Sean Hagan Says:

    A number of yers ago, I did a painting of Tuskegee P-47’s attacking an itallian destroyer titled “Red Tail Victory” the museum has since closed and I’d like to find the painting. I had hoped to locate David Price to assist me with this as I recall talking to him about it years ago when the museum 1st closed.
    I hope that David will see this post and contact me at his convenience. I’d like to make sure that my local Tuskegee exhibition gets to exhibit this painting.

    Sincerely,
    S. Hagan

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