National Geographic : 1957 Jul
Flight to Adventure and "home life," we drove to Qalqilye, a frontier town in western Jordan. There, to wind up the film, our star was to be assigned to a border patrol. We chose Qalqilye be cause it occupies a wedge of Jordanian terri tory that extends far into Israel, and much bitter fighting has taken place there. Our most important scenes were of a border patrol simulating defense maneuvers. Armed and wearing helmets, the men ran through a network of communicating trenches as if to take up their positions in the front line. Tay and I, cameras in hand, went out in front of them. But first I turned to the lieutenant in charge. "Please," I asked, "be sure all the guns are empty. They'll be pointing directly at us." "Don't worry," he replied. "The men have their instructions." Most of the men carried rifles, but I con centrated on one who had a Sten gun. Tay, at work with a still camera, was photograph ing two riflemen. Wanting a little action, I asked the Sten gun operator to work the bolt of his weapon. When he did, the "un loaded" gun went off with a sharp report (page 108). The lieutenant, as surprised as we, in stantly seized the weapon and emptied it of cartridges. Not until then did I realize that the bullet had buried itself in the ground within a yard of Tay! It had happened so fast that no one had any feeling of fright. But now there was another danger to consider: we were so close to the Israeli border that the accidental shot might well draw some return fire. "I've had enough of front lines," said Tay, as we got out of there, "to last me a lifetime." Infected Ear Fells Charlie's Copilot From Jordan we flew northwest to istanbul, Turkey, with stopovers in Beirut, Lebanon, and the island of Cyprus.* On the way Tay and I came down with miserable colds, and by the time we reached Istanbul, Tay was seriously ill with an ear infection and a high fever. At our urgent call a doctor came and was obliged to puncture her eardrum. Tay spent most of the next two weeks in bed, surrounded by medicine bottles bearing directions in Turkish. Fortunately, we had generous friends in the city. When Charlie Waggoner, the Pan American World Airways sales manager in Istanbul, heard of our plight, he and his wife Ollie promptly took us into their home and treated Tay like a daughter. During the next week she improved rapidly, and since she was in the best of hands I felt safe in taking a short trip. I had heard that Cinerama, a motion-picture technique in which both my father and I are interested, was to be on view at the International Trade Fair at Damascus. I wanted to see, and perhaps to film, the reaction of Near East visitors to the movie, "This Is Cinerama." At the last minute, Bill Kayser, Pan American's 30-year-old chief mechanic at Istanbul, decided to come along. So we took off together one morning on a round trip that very nearly turned out to be the last flight either of us ever made. Airlines Mechanic on Busman's Holiday It is 700 miles from Istanbul to Damascus, and the flight was a breeze. Bill, whose regular task was to keep Pan American's enormous four-engined Clippers flying, was taking a kind of busman's holiday, and he, as well as I, enjoyed it. Our stay in Damascus was short. One evening was enough to convince me that Cinerama was a success in the Near East so much so, in fact, that units of the Syrian Army had to be called out to help control the crowds at the theater gates. So, on the second day after arrival, Bill and I took off again for Istanbul. We got a late start, however, and I de layed things still more by landing at Beirut, 55 miles away, to air-express a case of ex posed film to New York. When Bill and I finally made our start for Istanbul, it was nearly 3 in the afternoon. To make matters worse, a weather report told us of a cold front in Turkey. At 3:06, over Tripoli, I tuned our long range transmitter to Istanbul Control's wave length and called across the intervening 600 miles. The pleasant voice of a woman came through my earphones, speaking English with a Turkish accent. "Four three Charlie," she said, "present Istanbul weather: sky overcast at 8,000 feet, broken clouds at 4,000, visibility eight miles, wind two seven zero degrees at five knots." * See "Athens to Istanbul," by Jean and Franc Shor, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, January, 1956.