By Jehu A. Richardson (Captain)
I was immensely pleased to read your recent article about Captain Page, and would be remiss if I didn’t add my personal interaction and experience. His contribution to aviation cannot be overstated.
After I completed flight school and returned home from the US in early 1971, I used to walk across the runway from my family’s home to the hangars at Spriggs Payne to just look around. I have always loved aeroplanes.
One day I had gone over there and was looking at some of the aircrafts in the DATCO airlines hangar, when Captain Page came up to me and started up a conversation. When I told him I had just returned home with my commercial and multi engine pilot’s license, he asked me if I wanted a job. I told him that as a recently qualified pilot I felt I did not have enough experience, at which, he asked me if I was the Chief Pilot of Datco. When I replied no, he again asked me if I wanted a job, and my response was yes. He said that he would hire me on one condition, which was that I would agree to be monitored by him and another very capable pilot, the late Major Dunn.
I began by flying on restricted routes, and, as my proficiency increased had less and less restrictions placed on me. After each flight he, or Major Dunn, would debrief me. These debriefings allow us to frankly discuss the flights and if anything arose which we needed to discuss. Navigation during those days were very challenging as there we no electronic aids other that Robertsfield and Spriggs. Locating remote airfields during the rains proved especially challenging. I was very blessed to have had him take a personal and professional interest in me, and freely imparting his many years of experience to me. If he saw that you took your profession seriously, he would embrace you and promote you with no hesitation, I was not the only Liberian who benefitted from this.
Captain Page’s contribution to Liberian aviation cannot be understated. It is indeed a shame that this sector, which was such a driving force for the economy of the 70s has been allowed to all but disappear. Captain Page and I remain in constant contact and our biggest regret is that the considerable experience veteran Liberian aviators have not been ableto pass on to other Liberians who would be desirous of pursuing this profession.
The words of wisdom which I would like to pass on to all who wish to excel in whatever profession they have chosen is what was told me after I satisfactorily completed my check ride for the Airline Transport Pilot’s license (the highest license you can obtain as a pilot), they were “congratulations Captain Richardson, you are now licensed to learn”. I’ve been learning ever since. I had a great teacher in Capt. Page and I owe a large part of my success to him. He remains a dear friend today.