John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: August, 2021

William H. Meyerholt: A Remembrance

When he died, The Cleveland Plain Dealer carried the obituary of William H. Meyerholt, age 72, of Munson Township, Ohio. Meyerholt, a retired United States Air Force Colonel, became the insurance manager for Lubrizol after leaving the service.

But he was always a jet jockey who drove F-105 Thunderchiefs during the Viet Nam war. The Thunderchief was a flying tank that pilots flew into harm’s way in support of our ground troops. The most audacious pilots were dubbed Wild Weasels.  These pilots deliberately flew toward NVA Surface-To-Air batteries challenging the enemy to lock-on with their radar so they could fire their own missiles at the SAMS control center and knock out the entire battery.

Meyerholt was good at this because he was crazy. All good fighter pilots are crazy. Like the World War II American submarine captains and their German U-Boat cousins, it was said: “There are bold commanders and old commanders, but there aren’t any bold and old commanders.

Fighter pilots, no matter how bold still had a much better chance at survival than a submariner since they could eject from their crippled fighters. Meyerholt eventually left the service and joined Lubrizoil as their risk manager. Business tempered him a bit but, deep down,  he was still insane.

Even though I never worked on the Lubrizol account, he often sought me out on his visits to New York City. Perhaps he’d gotten wind that I was an Air Force brat whose father flew 43 missions in B-24 Liberators with the Eighth Air Force during the Second World War? Or did he sense that I too had a crazy streak?

My weirdest encounter with Bill occurred in Paris on one warm, bright spring Paris morning; I was in town with my clients from Exxon. We had a break in our meeting schedule and my client, Richard G and I decided to take a stroll to enjoy the sights, sounds and the pleasant weather. As we walked across Place De La Concorde toward the River Sein, I distinctly heard a voice clearly shout out above the cacophony generated by the sea of automobiles circling the plaza,  “Hey, Delach, boy are you fat!”

I did a double take, looked at Dick and asked, “Am I crazy or did you hear what I just heard?”

“John, maybe we’re both losing it, but I heard it too.”

This is where this experience gets weirder. Two days later, Dick and I were about to cross a street in front of the Eiffel Tower when Meyerholt seemed to appear out of nowhere. He grabbed me in a bear hug and laughed like hell in his infectious way.

 I looked up at his smiling eyes and shouted: “You S.O.B, it was you who shouted out my name the other day, wasn’t it?”

“ Delach, you’re too fat to miss. You can run, but you can’t hide, and you owe me a Johnny Walker Black, you hump.”

I laughed as loud as he did, “You’re on, Bill.”

I had already bought him several Johnny Walker Black Scotch drinks in New York and London and that night I added Paris to the list by doing the honors at  the bar in the St. James Hotel.

We were both retired when another Marsh guy from our Cleveland office sent me his obit. Reading it, I remembered that time in Paris was the last time I ever saw Meyerholt.

Having the chance to read his obit put a smile on my face.

I had good times with a good man. True to form, for what it’s worth, here is how his obituary concluded:

Memorial contributions may be made to Bush-Cheney ’04

P.O. Box 10648  

Arlington, Virginia, 22210

Still crazy, still crazy, still crazy after all these years.

Once Upon a Time on Stone Pond Road

So far, the summer of 2021 has been an eventful time at our house in Marlow, New Hampshire. This is the house that Mary Ann christened, “Little House” when we bought it in 1984. The events affecting our summer included an inordinate amount of rainfall, a contract to install spray insulation to the bottom of the house that turned into the job from hell and a hot tub spa on the fritz.

July was the third wettest on record in NH averaging about 14 inches across the state and as much as 19 inches in Monadnock County in Southeastern NH. The July deluge was capped off by four inches of rain that fell on July 29th. This storm brought with it flash flooding that caused serious damage along the Route 10 corridor flooding roads and houses in towns that included Gilsum, Marlow, Lempster, Goshen and Newport.

We first learned about the severity of the flooding on the morning of July 30 when our handyman, Don, called on my cellphone. He asked: “Are you still in New York?”

“Actually, Don, we are on Interstate 95 on our way up to Marlow.”

He went on to explain that Route 10 and Route 123 were closed, and Stone Pond Road was cut off to traffic. Don can be a bit of a doom and gloom kind of guy, but this sounded serious. He promised to check on current conditions and give us an update within an hour.

We decided to continue our journey, but we chose to stop at the nearest service area on I-95 that was just east of Stamford, CT. Mary Ann decided to call Aaron’s, a local lunch and ice cream shop in Marlow while I checked Google maps on my iPhone. The map revealed two interesting findings: There was heavy traffic in the vicinity of Little House and the road was out between Lempster and Goshen.

The woman who Mary Ann spoke to at Aaron’s said that Route 10 was open in Marlow. Don  called back at the same time to confirm her update. Happy and satisfied, we continued our drive. It took us over six hours to reach Marlow, a trip that once upon a time could be completed in four-and one-half hours. Such is the increased traffic in 2021.

We saw our initial indication of the severity of the storm as we crossed the first viaduct on Route 10 south of Gilsum. This bridge permits the Ashuelot River to pass under the road. A rocky stretch, the water was moving along rapidly with a volume that looked to be greater than any spring runoff that I have seen since we first came here.

The second came as we approached Marlow and entered a flat area south of town. The river had overflowed its banks and one house just below the dam was almost surrounded by water. The water level was no more than two feet from overtopping the Marlow dam and we later learned that a voluntary evacuation had been ordered for fear the dam could fail.

The road to Lake Washington was closed by a cruiser manned by two part-time peace officers. Our local school, The John D. Perkins Academy was surrounded by emergency vehicles as it had been commandeered as a command center and a relief center for evacuees.

The road between Lempster and Goshen remained closed and didn’t reopen until Saturday morning.

One of the reasons we pressed on to reach Little House was that our visit had already been delayed two weeks because of the contractor’s difficulties in spraying the new insulation on the underside of the house. Originally, this area had been protected by bundles of insulation that had been stapled onto the wooden surfaces. Over the years, gravity had prevailed and many of these bundles had dropped to the ground. We had contracted for all these bundles to be removed and that a crew spray five inches of foam insulation to replace it. The work was scheduled to be done on July 14 but was delayed one day by a broken nozzle.

On the morning of July 15, the crew confirmed that they had finished spraying a third of the foam and expected to finish by later in the day.

The next day, they advised that the rest of the foam contained in a new barrel was defective, but that they would finish the spraying the next day. That attempt failed too, again because of defective material.

As the clock ticked forward and we flipped over the calendar, we learned two significant facts, the foam could not be sprayed when it was raining or water content in the air was above 18% and we couldn’t occupy the house for at least 24 hours after spraying was finished, and ideally, not for 36 hours.

Every attempt to finish the work had to be aborted for one reason or another. Finally, we cried uncle to Crystal, a customer representative in the contractors Nashua office on Tuesday, July 28. We explained that it had to be completed by the next day. She worked her magic, and a manager assembled a crew that day and completed spraying by day’s end.

One ordeal remained: the broken hot tub. Steve, the repair guy from Clearwater Spa Sales and Service solved that problem on Wednesday, August 4. He was sure that he had a spare control panel in stock in the shop and, with a bit of luck, it would replace the broken panel. Fortunately, he was right, and, in no time, it was up and running.

After Steve removed the old control panel, he explained that mice had destroyed the old unit by nibbling on the wires!

And so it goes. Things returned to normal…so far!

On the Outside Looking In will not publish on August 18 and will return on August 25


This must be one of the most ironic quotations an individual could make about their first flight,  especially as it came from Chuck Yeager: It was in January of 1942, and I  had never been in an airplane in my life. I was a PFC (private first class), a crew chief on an AT-11 bomber trainer, and I had to change the engines. The engineering officer said, “You want to test the airplane?”

I said, “I’ve never been in the air.”

He said, “You’re really going to enjoy it.”

Me being raised in West Virginia it was like me looking over a cliff. He flew some touch -and-goes, and I got really sick. After puking all over myself, I said, “Yeager, you made a big mistake.”

Fortunately, my own first flight was considerably more relaxing and without drama or illness. That experience filled me with a love for flying that has remained with me for over 60 years. I made my inaugural flight during the summer of 1957 on an Eastern Airline DC-6 from New York International Airport to Miami, Florida. I was 13-years old. Although this gateway airport had been operating since 1948, the first permanent modern terminal didn’t open until the same year of my first flight and that terminal was only used for international flights. My flight originated from the, so called, temporary air terminal, a collection of single-story plywood structures that meandered haphazardly on a need basis.

My destination was Miami and its rather unattractive temporary terminal. Commercial aviation, born in the 1930s, was only a teenager and had not hit the growth spurt that would come with the introduction of domestic jet service in the 1960s.

I recall two disappointments from my first flight; most of the route was over water making my  window seat view boring and not being able to see the New York skyline on take-off.

My second and third trips followed the same route, round trip between Idlewild and Miami. Number Two, in 1959 and Number Three in 1961. Both were on National Airlines with the second being my last trip on a piston powered commercial airliner, a Lockheed Constellation.  The third was also my first flight on a jet, a Douglas DC-8.

I didn’t fly again until 1967 when Mary Ann and I, just newlywed, flew to Bermuda for our honeymoon.

Since then, I have enjoyed more than my fair share of personal and family flights, but the bulk of my flying consisted of business trips that I made from 1973 until I retired in 2000. My first trip was a round trip between LaGuardia and Norfolk, Virginia in March of 1973 on Piedmont 737s.

I made my final retirement trip to London in March of 2000 round trip on two of United’s  Boeing-767s.

I want you, dear reader, to understand that I loved flying so much that I kept a written record, a sort of a travel log, of all my flights,  Between 1973 and 2000  I made 94 business trips to London, I flew 51 times to Bermuda, 39 to Atlanta, 36 to Dallas, 23 to Mobile, 24 to Pittsburgh, 20 to D.C., 19 to Richmond, 14 to Houston, 12 to Oslo and Lewisville, WV, 11 to Boston, 10 to Miami, 9 to Zurich, Nashville and Chicago and 8 to San Juan, PR.

I’ve traveled to Bergen, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Bahrain and Bombay, Mexico City, Rome, Manila, Copenhagen, Munich, Bordeaux and Beijing.

I spent more time in flight on Boeing 727s than any other airplane and made more flights on Eastern Airlines than any other carrier even though they went out of business in 1990.

I was privileged to fly supersonic 9 times on the Concorde between New York’s JFK airport and London’s LHR airport.

And in my time, I also managed to make an additional 117 non – business trips.

If you too enjoy flight, especially commercial flight, I recommend two classic books and a relatively new one that will join them as a classic as time goes by.

The first and oldest: “Wind, Sand and Stars,” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It is a realistic, yet romantic memoir that chronicles his exploits during the 1920s as a mail pilot flying across the Sarah and the Andes.

“Fate is the Hunter” is the classic re-telling of Ernest K. Gann’s  commercial flight experiences as a pilot for an unnamed American airline that my best guess is Eastern Airlines. The last chapter that was made into the movie, “The High and the Mighty,” will give you pause.

“Skyfaring: A Journey with A Pilot,” was published in 2015. The author, Mark Vanhoenacker, an American, beats all odds to achieve his dream job, a pilot flying British Airways 747 on world-wide routes.

I walked away from this book with a renewed understanding of how remarkable our ability is to fly safely and efficiently. Mr. Vanhoenacker completes Saint Exupery’s and Gann’s journeys of trial and error, defeat and renewal. He explains the technical miracles of flying a modern airplane with the same love and respect that Orville and Wilber felt about their Flyer. Flight is truly a miracle.