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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Reagan October Surprise Outed in Pilot's Letter: the GOP's deal with Iran's Ayatollah to destroy Carter

Did Ronald Reagan steal his election against Jimmy Carter by making a deal with Iran? That's the substance of the October Surprise conspiracy theory, ever since the Ayatollah let the hostages go in time for Reagan's inauguration. And now, it's the subject of a an email making the rounds of an informal group of private airplane pilots, most of them well to the right of Attila the Hun.

I'm on the list because I grew up with a lot of these guys. And, I admit, I'm their token liberal. They send me the worst of their birther, truther, race-baiting world and I sift it for what will emerge a month or two later in the mouths of Fox and then, by credulous repetition, the mainstream media. For instance, did you know that a video of Obama performing in a porno movie was definitely, absolutely, about to surface a week before the election? That's the level of their discourse on a bad day.

Why, then, do I continue to listen? Why would I make an exception on my shit-detector? First, because Nixon went to China: by which I mean that sometimes the right just can't help but do the right thing. In this case, proudly and obliviously tattle on itself.

Second reason: because when these guys talk flying, it's always fun. I like pilots. They go places and do things we earthbound mortals never dream of. Example? My cousin built a DC-3 from parts in the desert of Arizona, flew it up to the Yukon, and landed it on sandbars in rivers as part of his day's work. Then he sold the plane and went back to Arizona and did it again. Lived in a tent in the desert and put a DC-3 together, bolt by bolt, out of mothballed junkers.

Pilots are wild and crazy guys with mad skills and maverick personalities--oh, wait, that's the plot of Top Gun. But it's true. So, this pilot, in a letter detailing his career flying hot into every drug-CIA-Hezbollah-controlled LZ in the world, drops a curious boast into his tale:

"And now that our beloved 40th president has passed on I can tell you that in fact (with my apologies to Michael Reagan) the October Surprise was true. The October surprise for those of you that don't remember happened during October of 1980 when Reagan and Bush were running against Carter and Mondale. George Bush was flown in a BAC 111 one Saturday night to Paris to meet with the Ayatollah Khomeini. Bush offered the Khomeini a deal whereby if he would delay the release of the hostages held in Tehran until Reagans inauguration, the administration would supply unlimited guns and ammunition to the Iranians.

"In order to get Bush back for a Sunday morning brunch so that nobody would be alerted to his absence he was flown back in an SR-71 from Reims field near Paris to McGuire AFB. Of course Reagan won, the hostages were released and one of my jobs in Cairo was to deliver those arms from Tel Aviv to Tehran.

"Unfortunately, the first airplane in, an Argentinean CL-44 was shot down by the Russians just south of Yerevan and Mossad who was running the operation didn't want to risk sending my 707. The arms where eventually delivered through Dubai, across the Persian Gulf and directly into Terhan."

Good story, right? Lots of authentic detail. Love that "morning brunch" line. And there's one cool plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, for those who like cool stuff. (That's the plane used as a base by the X-Men in the first two movies, by the way.) Finally, you've got to love how he drops in the treason of ex-CIA chief GW Bush and candidate Reagan. Just, you know, by the way.

But, of course, it can't be true, can it? Of course not. The New York Times has investigated it, along with everyone else. And we've heard enough about birth certificates and other wackjob obsessions to give us a shiver and recoil reflex.

But can it be within the realm of possibility? Can it be taken as new information that means the case should be, perhaps, revisited? I think so. Or, at least, why not? If we've got the stamina to listen to Weinergate for a week straight, surely we can go back and revisit a little hanky-panky involving terrorists and Presidents.

Don't look at me that way. Sure, I can smell the manure. But that's the cologne of most people living on the fringe.

My response to the email was to thank the sender and to ask the group their opinion about the proper punishment for treason against a sitting President. I may have said it with more pith, but you get the idea.

But to return to the question: is it true? Hell, how would I know? But the rest of the letter is full of the sort of good-ol-flyboy derring-do that I personally have had come through my filter as a journalist. Google "Eugene Hasenfuss" if you want an idea. My particular beat as a tyro journo in the 1980s in Miami was go-fast boats, though, so if you want to meet my friends -- kidding! not friends! -- Google "Ben Kramer" or "George Morales" or "Don Aronow" and you'll see the kind of folks I encountered. I lunched with these guys. Drank Diet Coke. Watched mysterious doings at Opa-Locka Airport at 2 a.m. once and got very scared.

Two of the above were murdered, one, Morales, after he gave up the goods on the Iran-Contra scandal, and the BCCI bank's relationship to Iran and the CIA. If you can remember that far back, you may recall Oliver North and others took the stand and were then convicted of perjury for lying about the arms trades. It was a depressing scandal, par for the times, and one for which Pres Reagan was rightfully blamed (and, I think, insufficiently punished).

There is more. But I don't think it helps my case to reveal my accidental associates, even the one that got me on an FBI list. For a year or so a couple of agents would just drop by my office at Hearst and pay me a friendly visit, just to make sure my boss knew I was under their microscope. I don't think it helped my career.

It's probably not helping this story, either. The October Surprise is history. Finito. Over. And that's the problem, ultimately. We're tired of the truth being outed, again, only to have the prophet being revealed as another nutcase. Or someone who sends Tweets of his junk to coeds.

The attitude of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil was elevated to a doctrine recently by newly retired New York Times editor in chief Bill Keller. In last Sunday's NYT Magazine Keller wrote a column, "A Theory of Conspiracy Theories," and admitted that he had a delete-first reflex when it came to conspiracy theories -- even though he knew this meant he could be missing out on the one that is actually true.

Here's the url of his piece:

Keller's point is valid. I'm sure he was overwhelmed by these emails and letters. I'm sure he was right to dismiss 99.99% of them. But that other .01% is the problem: I think having someone look into the crazy stuff was part of his job. He was the face of the world's best "paper of record" -- and if he could accept the joke evidence of Iraq's WMD at face value and plump for the invasion, maybe he owed us a couple of fringe investigations. Just saying, you know?

The problem, as Keller knows, is that conspiracy theories deal in Black Swan events, those that lie outside the world as we know it. We who live in a White Swan world would go nuts if we had to think about the possible existence of Black Swans. We can't handle the truth, as Jack Nicholson's character says in "A Few Good Men."

By definition, then, the only people who are going to stumble over Black Swans are those who are outside the pale. Loners. Cab drivers. Misfits. Greek hedge funders who develop their own data and realize Bernie Madoff can't be delivering 15% returns for 20 years straight. Those kinds of wackos. And being wackos, by Bill Keller's and others' lights, nobody believes them. Until we've invaded Cuba or assassinated Patrice Lumumba or John Edwards' baby takes a bow in the Enquirer.

The Black Swan is real, but beneath the gaze of the curators of our reality. That's why they make great movie plots, like "Three Days of the Condor," "The Parallax View," and seemingly every other movie ever made. But do you ever stop to think how many of those movies end up with the truth exposed in the pages of... The New York Times?

And so we close by freely accepting that today's post, by Bill Keller's lights, makes me a wacko. Just for bringing it up. Just for entertaining the notion that new evidence might arise in the strangest of places.

But it's the pilots, I keep thinking. That's what makes this letter different. Those wild and crazy pilots...


John Lear gave this talk on July 9th, 2004 to a group of fellow pilots in Las Vegas at the "Hangar of Quiet Birdmen" or QB meeting. Each month one pilot in the group gives a 15 minute talk on his career.

John Lear on John Lear:

One of the anguishes of advancing age is losing old friends. The upside of that, though, is that I get to tell the story my way because there is
Nobody still around to say otherwise.

I learned to fly at Clover Field in Santa Monica when I was 14. However
Before I got to get in an actual airplane Dad made me take 40 hours of
Link with Charlie Gress. I can't remember what I did yesterday but I guarantee you I could still shoot a 90 degree, Fade-out or Parallel radio
Range orientation.

When I turned 16 I had endorsements on my student license for an Aero Commander 680E and Cessna 310.

I got my private at 17 and instrument rating shortly thereafter. The Lockheed 18 Lodestar was my first type rating at age 18. I went to work for my father and brother flying copilot on a twin beech out of Geneva Switzerland after I got out of high school. Dad was over there trying to peddle radios to the European airlines.

However just after I turned 18 and got my Commercial I was showing off my aerobatic talents in a Bucker Jungmann to my friends at a Swiss boarding school I had attended. I managed to start a 3 turn spin from too low an
Altitude and crashed. I shattered both heels and ankles and broke both legs in 3 places. I crushed my neck, broke both sides of my jaw and lost all of my front teeth. I managed to get gangrene in one of the open wounds
In my ankles and was shipped from Switzerland to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque where Randy Lovelace made me well.

When I could walk again I worked selling pots and pans door to door in
Santa Monica. In late 1962 Dad had moved from Switzerland to Wichita to build the Lear Jet and I went to Wichita to begin work in Public relations until November of 1963 about 2 months after the first flight when I moved
To Miami and took over editing an aviation newspaper called Aero News. I
Moved the newspaper to El Segundo in California and ran it until it failed. I then got a job flight instructing at Progressive Air Service in Hawthorne, California. From there I went to Norman Larson Beechcraft in Van Nuys flight instructing in Ercoupes.

In the spring of 1965 I was invited by my Dad back to Wichita to get type rated in the model 23 Learjet. I then went to work for the executive aircraft division of Flying Tigers in Burbank who had secured a dealership
For the Lear.

In November of 1965 my boss Paul Kelly crashed number 63 into the mountains at Palm Springs killing everybody on board including Bob Prescott’s 13 years old son and 4 of the major investors in Tigers. I took over his job as President of Airjet charters a wholly owned subsidiary of FTL and flew charters and sold Lears. Or rather tried to sell them. It
Turns out that I never managed to sell one Learjet in my entire life.

In March of 1966 2 Lear factory pilots Hank Beaird, Rick King and myself set 17 world speed records including speed around the round the world, 65 hours and 38 minutes in the first Lear Jet 24. Shortly after that flight I
Got canned from Tigers and moved to Vegas and started the first 3rd level airline in Nevada, Ambassador Airlines. We operated an Aero Commander and Cherokee 6 on 5 stops from Las Vegas to LAX. This was about the time
Howard Hughes moved to Las Vegas and I was doing some consulting work for
Bob and Peter Maheu.

The money man behind Ambassador was Jack Cleveland who I introduced to
John Myers in the Hughes organization. Cleveland and Myers tried to peddle
The 135 certificate to Hughes without success and Jack ended up selling Howard those phony gold mining claims you all may remember. I went back to Van Nuys and was flying Lear charter part time for Al Paulson and Clay
Lacy at California Airmotive, the Learjet distributor.

That summer I started a business called Aerospace Flight Research in Van Nuys were I rented aircraft to Teledyne to flight test their Inertial Guidance Systems. We had a B-26, Super Pinto and Twin Beech. I think we
Lasted about 4 months.

I then went to work for World Aviation Services in Ft. Lauderdale ferrying the Cessna O2 FAC airplanes from Wichita, fresh of the assembly line to Nha Trang in Viet Nam with fellow QB Bill Werstlein. We were under the 4440th ADG Langley VA. and hooked up with a lot of other military pilots ferrying all manner and types of aircraft.

Our route was Wichita to Hamilton, Hickam, Midway, Wake, Guam, Clark and then in country. The longest leg was Hamilton to Hickam an average of 16 hours, no autopilot, no copilot, and one ADF. We also had 3 piddle packs.
Arriving in Nha Trang we would hitch a ride to Saigon and spend 3 days under technical house arrest, each trip, pay a fine for entering the country illegally, that is being civilians and not coming through a port of entry, catch an airline up to Hong Kong for a little R and R and
straight back to Wichita for another airplane I flew this contract for 4 years.

During some off time in 1968 I attempted to ferry a Cessna 320 from Oakland to Australia with the first stop in Honolulu. About 2 hours out from Oakland I lost the right engine and had no provisions for dumping fuel. I went down into ground effect (T effect for you purists) and for 3 hours and 21 minutes flew on one engine about 25 feet above the waves and made it into Hamilton AFB after flying under the Golden Gate and Richmond bridges. An old friend Nick Conte, was officer of the day and gave me the
royal treatment. Why did I go into Hamilton instead of Oakland? I knew exactly where the O club was for some much needed refreshment.

In September of 1968 between 0-2 deliveries I raced a Douglas B-26 Invader in the Reno Air Races. It was the largest airplane ever raced at Reno, and I placed 5th in the Bronze passing one Mustang . It was reported to me after the race by XB-70 project pilot Col. Ted Sturmthal that when I passed the P-51, 3 fighter pilots from Nellis committed suicide off the back of the grandstands. In the summer of 1970 I helped Darryl Greenamyer and Adam Robbins put on the California 1000 air race in Mojave California.
That's the one where Clay Lacy raced the D7. I flew a B-26 with Wally McDonald.

I then started flying charter in an Aero Commander and Beech Queen Air for
Aero Council a charter service out of Burbank. They went belly up about 3 months later and I went up to Reno to work for my Dad as safety pilot on his Lear model 25. After my Dad fired me I was personally escorted to the Nevada/California border by an ex-Los Angeles police detective who worked for Dad and did the muscle work.

I went back down to Van Nuys and was Chief Pilot for Lacy Aviation and was one of the first pilot proficiency examiners for the Lear Jet. In the summer of 1973 I moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia as Chief Pilot and Director of Operations for Tri Nine Airlines which flew routes throughout Cambodia forKhmer Akas Air.

I flew a Convair 440 an average of 130 hours a month. We had unlimited quantities of 115/145 fuel and ADI and were able to use full CB-17 power (which was 62" for any of you R-2800 aficionados). In November of 1973 I
moved to Vientianne, Laos and flew C-46's and Twin Otters for Continental Air Services Inc. delivering guns and ammo to the Gen. Vang Pao and his CIA supported troops.

We got shot down one day and when I say we, Dave Kouba was the captain. We were flying a twin otter and got the right engine shot out. Actually the small arms fire had hit the fuel line in the right strut and fuel was streaming out back around the tail and being sucked into the large cargo opening in the side of the airplane and filling the cockpit with a fine mist of jet fuel.

I held the mike in my hands, "Should I call Cricket and possibly blow us up or...?" (Some of you may remember "Cricket"... "This is Cricket on guard with an air strike warning to all aircraft".) But Davy found us a friendly dirt strip and we were back in the air the next day. When the war came to an end in 1973 I moved back to Van Nuys and started flying Lears
for Lacy again until October when I went up to Seattle and sat in on a Boeing 707 ground school for Air Club International on spec.

3 weeks later I ended up in the left seat of the 707 with a total of 8 hours in type. Air Club begat Aero America and we flew junkets out of
Vegas for the Tropicana and Thunderbird Hotels. I left Aero having not been fired and in the summer of 1975 I was Director of Ops for Ambassador Airlines flying 707 junkets also out of Vegas. After that airline collapsed I moved to Beirut, Lebanon in September of 1975 and flew 707's for 2 years for Trans Mediterranean Airways a Lebanese cargo carrier.

It was a very interesting job in that they had 65 stations around the world and you would leave Beirut with a copilot that had maybe 200 hours
in airplanes and fortunately a first rate plumber and off you'd go around the world. My favorite run was Dubai to Kabul, Afghanistan with a stop in Kandahar. Kabul is a one way strip, land uphill and take off downhill, it was 6000 foot elevation with no navaids.

During those 2 years I made many round the world trips and many over the pole trips. In 1977 I moved back to Vegas and was Director of Operations for Nevada Airlines flying DC-3's and Twin Beech's to the Canyon. In September of 77 I was called to Budapest for another CIA operation flying 707's loaded with arms and ammo to Mogadishu.

Leaving Budapest then refueling in Jeddah we flew radio silence down the Red Sea trying to avoid the MiGs based in Aden, whose sole purpose on earth was to force us down. The briefing was simple. If you guys get into
trouble DON'T CALL US. Back to Vegas in December of that year I was hired as Chief Pilot for Bonanza Airlines operating DC-3's and a Gulfstream 1 from Vegas to Aspen.

After that airline collapsed I was hired by Hilton Hotels to fly their Lear 35A. In my spare time I flew part time for Dynalectron and the EPA on
an underground nuke test monitoring program. I flew their B-26, OV-10, Volpar Beech and Huey helicopter. I also flew the Tri Motor Ford part time for Scenic Airlines. In 1978 my Dad passed away and his will left me with
one dollar, which incidentally, I never got.

In 1980 I ran for the Nevada State Senate district 4. I lost miserably only because I was uninformed, unprepared and both of my size 9 triple E's were continually in my mouth.

I got fired from Hilton shortly after that and moved to Cairo, Egypt to fly for Air Trans another CIA cutout. After the Camp David accords were signed in 1979 each country, Egypt and Israel were required to operate 4
flights a week into the others country. Of course, El Al pilots didn't mind flying into Cairo but you could not find an Egyptian pilot that would fly into Tel Aviv. So an Egyptian airline was formed called Nefertiti Airlines with me as chief pilot to fly the 4 flights a week into Tel Aviv.
On our off time we flew subcontract for Egyptair throughout Europe and Africa. All this, of course was just a cover for our real missions which was all kinds of nefarious gun running throughout Europe and Africa which
we did in our spare time.

And now that our beloved 40th president has passed on I can tell you that in fact (with my apologies to Michael Reagan) the October Surprise was true. The October surprise for those of you that don't remember happened
during October of 1980 when Reagan and Bush were running against Carter and Mondale. George Bush was flown in a BAC 111 one Saturday night to Paris to meet with the Ayatollah Khomeini. Bush offered the Khomeini a deal whereby if he would delay the release of the hostages held in Tehran until Reagans inauguration, the administration would supply unlimited guns and ammunition to the Iranians.

In order to get Bush back for a Sunday morning brunch so that nobody would be alerted to his absence he was flown back in an SR-71 from Reims field near Paris to McGuire AFB. Of course Reagan won, the hostages were
released and one of my jobs in Cairo was to deliver those arms from Tel Aviv to Tehran.
Unfortunately, the first airplane in, an Argentinean CL-44 was shot down by the Russians just south of Yerevan and Mossad who was running the operation didn't want to risk sending my 707. The arms where eventually delivered through Dubai, across the Persian Gulf and directly into Terhan.

During the 2 years I was in Cairo I averaged 180 hours a month with a top month of 236 hours in a 31day period. I spent a 6 week tour in Khartoum flying cows to Saana, North Yemen in an old Rolls Royce powered 707.

Back in Las Vegas in December of 1982 I sat on my ass until I was out of money, again, and then went to work for Global Int'l Airlines in Kansas City, another CIA cutout run by Farhad Azima, an Iranian with a bonafide Gold Plated Get Out of Jail Free card flying 707's until they collapsed in October of 83.

During the summer of 1983 the FAA celebrated its 25th Anniversary at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. There was much fanfare and speech making and 2 honored guests. Bill Conrad from Miami, Florida who had the most type ratings, I think over 50. And myself. I had the most
airman certificates issued of any other airman.

After Global's collapse I went to work for American Trans Air flying 707's. I wrote their international navigation manual as MNPS for North Atlantic operations was just being implemented and became the first FAA
designated check airman for MNPS navigation. ATA then added 727's and then Lockheed L-1011's. For a very brief time I was qualified as captain in all three.

After getting fired from ATA in July of 1989 I became a freight dog flying DC-8's for Rosenbalm Aviation which became Flagship Express and after that airline collapsed I was hired as Chief pilot for Patriot Airlines out of
Stead Field in Reno, flying cargo 727's from Miami to South America. After getting fired from Patriot I went to work for Connie Kalitta flying DC-8s then the L-1011 on which I was a check airman. Kalitta sold out to Kitty Hawk International which went bankrupt in May of 2000.

I was 57 at the time and nobody is going to hire an old f*ck for two and a half years except to fly sideways as a FE so I turned in my stripes and ever present flask of Courvoisier. Except for one last fling in March of 2001 where I flew the Hadj for a Cambodian Airline flying L-1011's under contract to Air India. We were based in New Delhi and flew to Jeddah from all throughout India. There was absolutely no paperwork, no FAA, no BS and for 6 weeks we just moved Hadji's back and forth to Saudi Arabia.

One final note, in October of 1999 I had the honor and extreme pleasure to get checked out in a Lockheed CF-104D Starfighter. My instructor was Darryl Greenamyer, the airplane was owned by Mark and Gretchen Sherman of
Phoenix. It was the highlight of my aviation career particularly because I survived my first and only SFO in a high performance fighter.

One other thing, somehow I managed to get the following type ratings:
Boeing 707/720/727, Convair 240/340/440, DC-3, DC-8, B-26, Gulfstream 1,
Lockheed Constellation, Lear Jet series, HS-125, Lockheed L-1011, Lockheed
L-18, Lockheed P-38, Martin 202/404, B-17, B-25, Grumman TBM and Ford Trimotor.

I also have single and multi engine sea, rotorcraft helicopter and gyroplane, and lighter than air free balloon. I never got all categories
having missed the Airship. And in case you are interested many, many airmen have lots more type ratings.

What I did get, that no other airman got, was most FAA certificates: These are: the ATP, Flight Instructor with airplane single and multi engine, instrument, rotorcraft helicopter and gyroplane and glider. Flight Navigator, Flight Engineer, Senior Parachute Rigger, Control Tower Operator, A&P, Ground Instructor, Advanced and Instrument and Aircraft

I have 19,488 hours of Total time of which 15,325 hours is in 1,2,3 or 4 engine jet.

I took a total of 181 FAA (or designated check airman) check rides and failed only 2.

Of the thousands of times I knowingly violated a FAA regulation I was only caught once but never charged or prosecuted.

The farthest I have ever been off course was 321 miles to the left over the South China Sea in a 707 on New Year’s day 1977 on a flight from Taipei to Singapore. The deviation was not caught by Hong Kong, Manila or Singapore radar and I penetrated six different zero to unlimited restricted areas west of the Philippines. I landed in Singapore 7 minutes late without further incident.

How, you ask, did I get so far off course? The short answer is I was napping at the controls. I have flown just about everywhere except Russia, China, Mongolia, Korea, Antarctica, Australia or New Zealand.

I am a senior vice-commander of the American Legion Post No1 Shanghai, China (Generals Ward, Chennault and Helseth) (operating in exile) and a 21 year member of the Special Operations Association.

Now some of you may be asking why so many airlines collapsed that I worked for and why I got fired so many times. My excuse is simple. I am not the brightest crayon in the box, I am extremely lazy, I have a smart mouth and a real poor attitude!


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