Howard Hughes & I (almost) Do Lunch

Posted September 23, 2003

By Joe Nemecek

In 1962 I was an Instrumentation Engineer and had been with TWA for a little more than a year. I was sent from Kansas City to the Los Angeles hangar to provide technical assistance for the installation of an aircraft modification I had written. It was lunchtime, and as TWA didn't have a cafeteria, it was common practice to go across LAX airport to the American Airlines hangar cafeteria to eat. Several of us were going, including a LAX Specialty Foreman.

As we exited the east side of the hangar and went onto the apron, I noticed a thin man in khaki pants and a dirty white tee shirt leaning up against the outside wall of the hangar. He was drinking milk from a pint-size paper carton and eating a few crackers.

I excused myself from the group and started walking toward him. "Where are you going," the Specialty Foreman asked? "I thought I'd give that poor man a couple of dollars so he could have a decent lunch," I said. He grabbed my arm and replied, "You idiot. That's Howard Hughes."

I continued walking with the guys to lunch and missed my only chance to meet Howard Hughes. To this day I wonder what would have happened if I would have offered Mr. Hughes a couple of dollars to eat. One thing for certain is that I probably wouldn't be telling this story now. Everyone who worked for TWA would have already heard it.

Joe Nemecek (1960-1998), started as an Associate Engineer and served in Maintenance and Ground Operations at MCI, and Airline Information Services at KCAC.

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