The two years that I spent as the Piper district sales manager for the West Coast were some of most interesting and fun filled of my aviation career. Not only was I learning the aircraft sales business from some of the most experienced and well-respected people in the Piper distributor organization, I was also learning about grass roots flying from high-time, skilled pilots.
In the fall of 1962, I was a year out of flight training and attached to Heavy Photographic Squadron Sixty-One (VAP-61) home based at NAS Agana, Guam. It turned out that the only capability in the western Pacific for high altitude mapping belonged to VAP-61 and its Douglas RA-3B Skywarrior.
At about the time that I intercepted the localizer course, I went into a personal “brain dump” that could have cost me my life and defines this moment of terror. I had engaged the autopilot coupler and was in that dangerous “fat, dumb and happy” mode as I flew toward the runway exactly on course. I was in clouds and fog when something made me glance out the window.