by Gene Nora Jessen
by Jacque Boyd
Not so long ago, Mr. Cessna built great airplanes
for the “every-pilot.”
Mr. Piper built a slightly
more expensive, but equally popular alternative. Then there was the “Cadillac” of the
general aviation world, built by Mr. Beech. Okay, I’ll admit
that’s more than a little simplified version of general aviation
from the early 1960’s through the mid-1980’s. Well, maybe not!
The Fabulous Flight of the Three Musketeers tells the story
of the introduction of a new Beech aircraft, the Musketeer.
Beech’s plan was to demonstrate the airplane for the public
and the press by flying three of the airplanes for 90 days, in
formation flight across the 48 contiguous states. Gene Nora
Jessen, the book’s author and one of the “Three Musketeer”
pilots, chronicles the delightful journey of the airplane for
those 90 days. Jessen, Joyce Case and Mike Gordon were chosen to be the demonstration pilots who, in the summer and
fall of 1962, introduced Beech’s new model to the masses.
The Flight of the Three Musketeers is a story of three pilots
demonstrating an airplane, but also a treatise of the times.
Jessen and Case flew the airplane in dresses and heels with
Gordon in a suit or at least a dress shirt and a tie.
Jessen organizes the “chapters” into the seven legs of the
promotional flights. Leg 1 was a six-day trip that began in
Wichita, Kansas, to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. On day two
they flew to Dallas. Day 3 included flights to Houston and
then separate trips for Jessen to Texas City and Galveston.
Add in the thrills of a new airplane to demonstrate, new
radios to test, learning to be a sales person, weather glitches,
formation flying and oh yes, again flying in high heels.
This book is for you if you’ve ever owned a Beechcraft
product—you’ll love the background and the history. This
book is for you if you were flying in the “good old days” of
the 1960s. This book is for you if you simply enjoy a wonderful aviation story well-told. The photos—and there are a lot
of great photos—will make you smile and some of them will
make you simply laugh aloud!
Jessen, who had been a flight instructor at the University
of Oklahoma, quit her job there in 1961 to take part in some
secret physical tests conducted at the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Does that sound vaguely familiar?
Yes, she was one of the women, as she says “light-heartedly
tagged The Mercury 13.” Jessen is also one of the elite few
women who have held the office of President of the Ninety-Nines, Inc., the world’s oldest organization specifically for
certificated female pilots. ✈
Booksurge Publishing; Soft cover; $16.99
Likes To Go Fast
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