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Summary

FLYING FOR BUSINESS-IS THIS ANY WAY TO WRECK A HOBBY?
Airdate: January 1970


Show Description
Jean Shepherd is sitting in a beef-and-beer place in East Rutherford, NJ, one of the homogeneous ring of communities surrounding the swamp that has, at its northernmost end, Teterboro Airport. He's talking while a half dozen local university students munch on sharp cheese and think about tomorrow when they'll tell their friends about being out with "Shep" and about how he's a nice guy - a "real person" despite the fact that the Realist, the New York-based "underground" publication, calls him "one of the four most influential satirists in America." "So anyway," Shep is saying, "I'm in this Hello Courier and we're going as far into the Peruvian jungle as anybody ever goes - like, you need special permission from the government to do it at all. The pilot looks down at this greenery - it looks like a green Bigelow rug - the kind with deep piles. It doesn't change color or texture for as far as you can see except for a river that's winding down below." Shepherd cuts a hunk of cheese and passes it to his gal Friday, Lee Brown, a pretty blond who weaves some semblance of order into Shep's convoluted schedule of speaking engagements and personal appearances. "The pilot heads down into the river canyon, its walls formed by these hundred-foot-high trees. He flies up the river, banking and turning . . Then finally splashes down into the slimy water and taxis up to the muddy bank. 'Get out,' he tells me (with all those crocodiles around!) 'and tie us up to that tree' . . ." Shepherd goes on with his narration, about how the pilot had stowed gasoline in oil drums on the bank at this spot, how he helps him with hand refueling. "Then suddenly we look up," whispers Shep, now coming to the climax, "and these four little guys are standing there not saying a word. Just looking at us. They're holding blow guns in their hands and they've got berry juice rubbed into their hides and they're not saying a word. I mean they're just looking us over . . ." The kids at the table stop the cheese-and-beer thing and listen with every ounce of concentration . . . Perhaps the way millions of people around the country listen to Shep every night on WOR radio in New York and in the Seattle and Boston areas. Four million read his satiric short stories every month in Playboy or in the Saturday Review or in Metro-nome or in Town and Country - and here he is in this beer place in East Rutherford, talking to six kids about flying. A little later on, the South American cannibals have been disposed of and the college kids are gone as well. B/CA is now Shep's audience. "Well," he says, "that's what I like to do most: talk to college kids and fly, I mean. I started flying about four years ago as a hobby. It- was a great way to get away from New York. In fact, I'd go down to Princeton [New Jersey, about a one-hour drive from New York] just to get away from all the traffic in the New York area. The last thing I wanted to do was to wreck a good hobby by doing something useful with it like using an airplane for business purposes. But that's changing now." Shepherd explained that he made 30 trips to colleges and universities throughout the country last year to dispense his Twainian humor (and to make quite a bit of money). This year, he expects to make at least 40 stops on his speaking tour, excluding numerous hops to Montreal where animators are adding his voice to the antics of a naked blue gorilla in a feature-length cartoon called "Tiki-Tiki." Then, too, he'll be traveling to promote his newest book - it has no title yet - with hopes it will join his first effort, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, as a best-seller. "So, I'm working on my instrument rating now and when I get everything squared away, find an airplane - probably a single - to use." Besides his New York area WOR audience, Shepherd is heard by listeners to KRAB in Seattle, Wash, and WGBH in Boston and throughout the Armed Forces Radio Service network. And to each of these audiences, on occasion, he touts the fun of modem flying and recounts the adventures of early aviators. Shepherd's secret ambition in flying is to catch the ears of the Wichita and Lock Haven marketing execs who, he ,thinks, should change their shotgun approach to aircraft marketing ("Everyone can fly") to an on-target scheme ("It takes a special kind of person to fly"). Many of his ideas are sound and a few are extraordinary. Flight training particularly interests Shepherd and he's putting together a humorous account of his instrument instruction as it goes along. "I don't know what I'm going to do with the story," Shep says, "but the situations that develop in primary instrument instruction are too funny to pass up: Maybe do a whole book on it." If he does, it will take the flight training industry years to recover. - RNA
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January 1970
Article

Courtesy: Gil Wolin

    
Airdate History ' - Original' date is earliest known broadcast)
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