One of my earliest recollections is seeing famous radio personality Arthur Godfrey waving from the cockpit of a DC-3. Even though I was only 4 or 5, I can still hear his folksy, gravely voice coming from the radio on the kitchen wall, and the aura of affection it generated among listeners. His radio show was sponsored by Chase and Sandborne, and we affectionately called him Awful Coffee.
After a stint in the Navy and then the Coast Guard before WW2, Godfrey won a talent contest in 1930 singing and playing the ukulele. His success landed him a weekly radio show, and he went on to become an announcer at Baltimore's WFBR, now WJZ. He moved to Washington and became a staff announcer for NBC-owned WRC until 1934.
He started flying in 1929 but in 1931 was invovled in an automobile accident on the way to a flying lesson. The injury kept him from flying duty in WW2, but he served in the Navy as a public affairs officer.
As a celebrity, he cajole the Navy into qualifying him as a Naval Aviator and he eventually became carried qualified and earned a green instrument card. He played those tickets against the Air Force, who successfully recruited him into their reserve corp as well. At one time during the 1950s, Godfrey had flown every active aircraft in the military inventory at one time or another.
His continued unpaid shilling for Eastern Airlines earned him the undying gratitude of good friend WW1 flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker who was the president of the airline. Captain Eddie is featured in the following 48 minute movie shot in 1953. Wait till you watch them feather three engines leaving just #4 to keep the Connie aloft! This flick is a virtual time machine back to the post-war years of vintage aviation, including a GCA approach and a supersonic dive with famed Lockheed test pilot Tony Levier (and a totally inaccurate description).
Godfrey was such a good friend of United that Rickenbacker took a retiring DC-3, fitted it out with an executive interior and DC-4 engines, and presented it to Godfrey, who then used it to commute to the studios in New York City from his huge Leesburg, Virginia farm every Sunday night. Today, a young friend—a Falcon captain for BAE—has a house on the land that was Godfrey's "Old Cow Pasture."
In January 1954, Godfrey buzzed the control tower of Teterboro Airport in his Douglas DC-3. His license was suspended for six months. Godfrey claimed the windy conditions that day required him to turn immediately after takeoff, but in fact he was peeved with the tower because they wouldn't give him the runway he asked for. Unrepentant, this song, written and sung by Godfrey, followed.