Who wants to be a pilot?

Who Wants to Be a Pilot?
By Dick Mauer

I entered on duty at Calexico in late fall, 1964 and worked there for
about 5 weeks before we were flown to Los Fresnos to start our academy.
Here are my memories of those first couple of months.

I arrived in Calexico after driving cross country in my 62 Pontiac
Tempest convertible.(I don't think I had the top down all the while I
was in Calexico) I parked on the street in the DeAnza Hotel lot, and
went inside to register. After that 10 minute procedure I returned to my
car to get my things, only to find that my car had been stripped of my
belongings hanging on a clothes bar in the back seat. Welcome to
Calexico. I had a new green tweed sport taken that I watched for on
somebody for 4 years. I never did see it.

I reported to El Centro in the morning for orientation along with about
15 other trainees. We were sworn in and had orientation for the full
day. The second day we were bused to San Diego where I spent $400.00 at
Albert's on uniforms, leather, boots, hats, etc. The third day we began
working with journeymen for a few days before being turned loose on our
own. They must have issued us a badge and gun. I don't remember the
specifics on that.  When finally put out on our own, I do remember a
journeyman telling me to stay on the drag road in the west desert until
I come to the tree line, and then turn around and come back. I would
never have guessed that the "trees" were about 8 feet high. I guess I
just kept going, looking for trees, before they came to find me.

After learning how to properly rake sand traps, drag tires, and practice
the rudiments of sign cutting for 5 weeks we were ready for the academy.
Assembling at El Centro, we were bused out to the airport where we
boarded a service C-47 to go to Brownsville. I remember the plane being
malodorous from its use in flying aliens to Mexico and back and forth
along the border. We stopped in Yuma, Tucson, and El Paso to pick up
classmates. The highlight of the trip occurred when the Border Patrol
pilots invited every one of us to come into the cockpit and actually fly
the plane under their watchful eye. The Old Patrol was a wonderful

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