Walter O'Malley The Official Website

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Dodger Planes Take Flight with Holman at Controls

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In those early years of flying the DC-6B and the Electra II, the Dodgers worked out an agreement with the American League expansion Los Angeles Angels, whereby they too would use the plane for road trips. When the Dodgers were home, the Angels were on a road trip and vice versa.
“I very seldom stayed in L.A.,” said Holman. “I just unloaded the Dodgers and picked up the Angels and took them back East. For me, home was Vero Beach. The plane was housed in Vero. We flew every time they moved once the season got started, about every third day. We practically always flew at night after the game. During Spring Training, we flew every day...sometimes lots of trips. When we had the DC-3, I’d go to New York one day and come back the next. Then they got the Convair and I thought oh boy I’m going twice as fast. Then we got so I would go to New York back and forth the same day. Then we got the Electra II and we got so I would go to New York and back twice the same day. In Spring Training, they brought a lot of people to Vero. It was two and a half hours up and two and a half hours back to Vero. We could do that easy twice in one day.”
Holman and his co-pilot Dave White used to play a few good-natured tricks on unsuspecting players in the cockpit.
“We had one jump seat up there and we always let one player sit there,” said Holman. “They always took turns doing that. We always had a lot of fun with them in the Electra. It was a big, roomy cockpit, much bigger than the jets you see today. The flight engineer’s seat had a heckuva travel on it. That seat went up and down about three feet. Plus, it moved forward and back at an angle, to allow you to get by it.
“Some of the time, we would have the flight engineer get out of his seat, when the ballplayers would come up front and we’d say, ‘Hey sit in the flight engineer’s seat.’ We’d have it all the way up to the top and all the way back. They’d say, ‘Wow, this is something else.’ We’d say, ‘Slide the seat up here a little forward, so you get closer. Just pull that lever.’ We had intentionally told them the wrong lever. The seat would go down and it would fall about three feet. It scared them to death! They figured they were going to go right out the bottom!”
Dodger President O’Malley was a regular visitor in the cockpit of his team airplane, although Holman recalls the boss preferred sitting at the tables in the back.
“He used to come up there,” said Holman. “He loved to shoot the breeze with us. Most of the time when he was in the plane, he’d have my Dad or most of the other guys playing gin rummy. He didn’t get out of his seat too often.”
Los Angeles Angels owner and famed singing cowboy Gene Autry also made appearances in the cockpit. He not only sat with Holman, but took control of the Electra II.
“He used to come up to sit in the cockpit and I’d let him fly some,” said Holman. “Gene Autry was a pilot in World War II (for the Army Air Forces). He was a pretty good pilot, a little rusty, but a pretty good pilot.
“When we got the airplane from General Motors, they assigned Art Sunderland as the flight engineer. He started the first one of those engines of which Allison was really proud. Of course, when they had it, it didn’t have any interior or anything. It was just a test bed for them. When we got it, they assigned him to us, just being nice. They wanted to get good service out of the engines, and all that. Boy, when he saw that airplane with that interior, that was his baby. He was around there dusting it and wiping the fingerprints off. He treated it like it was his own.
“One night we came into L.A. about nine o’clock. It was a quick turn, as we were bringing the Angels out. We were cleaning the airplane out inside, dumping the ashtrays and sweeping up, the whole crew including this old fellow. We’re all working like crazy trying to get it straightened up.

Capt. Harry R. “Bump” Holman is seated in his familiar cockpit chair ready for another flight with the Dodgers. Today, Holman and his brother Tom own Sun Aviation at Vero Beach, Florida. They now have 50 employees in their avionics and maintenance departments.

Bud Holman (standing), Bump’s father, greets Dodger President Walter O’Malley who arrives in a car on the tarmac, with the “Kay O’” Dodger Electra II seen in the background.

Capt. Bump Holman’s career as the Dodger pilot is the subject of a newspaper article in The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida) “Florida Southern Grad ‘Bumpy’ Holman Flies Ball Players in Jet.” A photo of the Dodger Lockheed Electra II accompanies the article which shows Holman shaking hands with Lakeland’s acting airport manager Don Emerson.

click here for a larger photo

The original blueprint, sketched in 1965, shows a proposed Douglas DC-9-10 airplane for the Dodgers. Walter O’Malley was considering upgrading to the jet from the Dodger-owned Lockheed Electra II, which he had purchased in 1961. The new aircraft would also have been owned by the Dodgers, but by agreement also used by the Los Angeles Angels, thus both team logos are visible. The Angels were already sharing the Electra with the Dodgers for their road trips. O’Malley had agreed to pay the nearly $7 million price tag for the DC-9 model, but when Douglas officials came back to him and asked him to opt for a newer stretch model DC-9-20 at a considerable price increase, it was a bigger plane than the Dodgers needed and he decided to pass. It was not until 1970 when O’Malley purchased a 720-B Fan Jet that the Dodgers officially moved into the jet age. The 720-B Fan Jet was christened “Kay O’II” in tribute to Kay O’Malley, First Lady of the Dodgers.

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