If you read my previous posts about my declaration of NEVER flying in a light plane or chopper again (after three tours of Vietnam...the last for NBC News) then you’ll be amazed that I caved in and did it.
Also because of the tragic death of my friend Bob Collins of WGN Chicago and the crash of NBC News Chicago anchorman Floyd Kalber into a cornfield not far from our farm (he was unhurt!) well... you know my real feelings.
I was at WIOD Miami doing two hours of talk nightly from 7-9PM
The state of florida was going to “fry” John Spenkelink on May 25, 1979 in the prison in Starke, Florida not far from Gainesville.
I told our boss I’d go up there and tape my next show and he said the traffic guy...Walt Mcdonald...would fly me up and back in his plane.
I wasn’t happy about that but Starke had no airport for jet planes so what else could I do.
Walt was a great guy and a lot of fun and (thank god) a really accomplished pilot. We had first met in Philly where he did traffic reports for WWDB the Talk Station when I was there. Now he did the same for us in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale.
All the way up there (it was evening...getting dark) I was tense and he sensed it and tried to take my mind off it but didn’t succeed.
Once there with my feet thankfully and safely on the ground I went about covering the story. The press was massive as this was the first execution since the Supreams had made it legal again.
One of the first press guys I ran into was my old combat correspondent buddy from Saigon...Kenley Jones. He was happy to see me and in from Atlanta to cover the killing festivities for NBC News.
They fried Spenkelink...and I taped a bunch of stuff and Walt and I headed for the airstrip and his plane.
I’d like to say I slept on the trip back but I didn’t.
After we touched down at the small airport near the radio station...I renewed my vow “never again”...but not outloud.
I thanked Walt for the good job and we went our separate ways. but...for me...never again, again!
I know what some of you will say.
“You're safer up in that plane than on the highway!”
thanks...but I’ll stick to the highway.