Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 26


Flying Higher
A true story by Mort Beyer
Reviewed for Jetrader by Jack Feir


Being 6 feet, 6 inches or so tall, Mort Beyer has always been a man we look up to. In my eyes, his stature has been further enhanced by his recently published autobiography. Most of us in the ISTAT community know Mort as one of the society’s original founders in the early 1980s, where he also became one of the original 14 “grandfathered” appraisers certified by ISTAT in 1989. He also founded the consulting firm, Avmark, and later performed in the title role of the founding of Morten Beyer & Agnew. But all that came later. Flying Higher is Mort’s account of his many careers in commercial aviation before Avmark, before ISTAT, and before MBA. Fresh out of college, he joined Pan Am in 1943, at a time when they were still flying the Clipper flying boats to South America and had divisions as far afield as China and Africa. The things Pan Am and young Mort did had mostly never been tried before, so for both of them it was a matter of trial and error and on-the-job training. In 1946, Pan Am’s route between Miami and Havana was one of their busiest. The Clippers had by then been retired, and the DC-4s were used on longer routes, so the hop from Miami to Havana was mainly served by DC-3s. Traffic was booming. Mort proposed a shuttle service, with departures every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, using a fleet of only eight DC-3s. It worked. With a certain pride of

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accomplishment, Mort observes that, “To this day, the Pan Am Havana-Miami shuttle is the highest frequency operation ever conducted between two cities by a single airline.” A pesky thorn in the side of the established carriers like Pan Am was the appearance of the so-called “non-scheduled” airlines that popped up after the war, using cheap military surplus airplanes and offering very low fares. Besides stealing passengers from Pan Am, the “non-skeds” also “borrowed” Pan Am’s ramp equipment such as stairs, baggage carts and fire bottles when no one was looking, but refused to pay any fees or rent for the equipment. Fed up with the situation, Mort had the ramp equipment locked up when Pan Am was not using it. Inevitably, one engine on a non-sked’s C-46 caught fire on start-up. Everyone escaped from the aircraft, and the crew ran to get the fire bottles, but Mort’s response was, “Let ’em burn.” The fire quickly burned itself out, and in a few days the non-skeds agreed to pay a rental fee for using the equipment. After leaving Pan Am, the shoe was on the other foot. Mort came to see the airline business from the perspective of the small, struggling second-tier airlines. He joined Capital Airlines, which eventually became insolvent and merged into United. Then it was on to Riddle Airlines, a struggling cargo airline. Then a four-year assignment on behalf of TWA to manage a contract with Saudi Arabian Airlines to train Saudi nationals as pilots, mechanics and supervisors. Next it was back to another struggling non-sked in the U.S., this time Modern Air Transport, which was about to truly enter the jet age with a fleet of Convair 990s. Modern Air was restricted to domestic charters in the U.S., but its Berlin operation was where its profits came from. Modern Air became the largest charter airline operation in Berlin. Among the “firsts” while Mort was CEO of Modern Air, was a pole-to-pole, round-the-world charter, a 30-day adventure for Mort and 70 first-class passengers. As a hired gun, Mort did his best to bring order and discipline to the likes of Capitol International (not the other Capital with an “a”), Universal Airlines, and Johnson Flying Service, each with a cast of characters and a gold-mine of stories. Flying Higher is a fascinating account of Mort Beyer’s 60-some years in the belly of the commercial airline business.

26 The 1 434650_Cabot.indd official

publication of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading 6/23/09 4:40:46 PM

Jetrader - May/June 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jetrader - May/June 2010

Jetrader - May/June 2010
A Message from the President
Q&A: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy
ISTAT Shines in Orlando
The State of Aviation Finance
A Closer Look: Airbus A380
Cargo Conversion Candidate Aircraft
Emerging Entrants
Help Yourself
Bavarian Splendor
Flying Higher
Aircraft Appraisals
From the ISTAT Foundation Index
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Jetrader - May/June 2010
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Cover2
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - A Message from the President
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 4
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Contents
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 6
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Calendar/News
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 8
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Q&A: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 10
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 11
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - ISTAT Shines in Orlando
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 13
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 14
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 15
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - The State of Aviation Finance
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 17
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - A Closer Look: Airbus A380
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 19
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Cargo Conversion Candidate Aircraft
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 21
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Emerging Entrants
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 23
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Help Yourself
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Bavarian Splendor
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Flying Higher
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Aircraft Appraisals
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - 28
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - From the ISTAT Foundation
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Index
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Cover3
Jetrader - May/June 2010 - Cover4