Sunday, July 12, 2009

Paul Thayer - Friend of Johnny Myers "The Flying Man"

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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

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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

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 Rennasance 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.

Clay Lacy - Interview for "The Flying Man" documentary

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.

Janice Merriweather - Interview

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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.