From Flying Machines to the Supersonic Jet Age

90 From Flying Machines to the Supersonic Jet Age: A Personal Perspective Yerex’s legs and hit him in the head. The bullet knocked his right eye out of its socket and filled his left eye with blood from the wound. Maloney was no pilot, so Yerex, severely wounded, had to get the aircraft back to base. In a letter to his mother, Yerex wrote that he managed to “make a fair landing”, but found the “circumstances very embarrassing”. Yerex wore a glass eye for the rest of his life but he continued to fly. It has to be said that the surviving veterans from the two World Wars developed grit by necessity. As Australian test cricketer and Royal Australian Air Force Pilot, Keith R. Miller, responded to a reporter when asked if he was nervous before a test match at Lords: “Nervous? No. Nervous is when you have a Messerschmitt up your ass”. The grateful Honduran Government offered Yerex a cash reward, which he rejected in favour of a mail contract and other concessions. The hospitable base of operations for his fledgling airline allowed him to establish a vast and profitable air network for TACA. He built his Latin American airline into the world’s largest cargo carrier, with the motto of, ‘Go Anywhere – Do Anything’. By the end of the 1930s he was a wealthy man and a living legend. What is probably not well known about this pioneer, is that during the 1930s he was also very involved in ‘bleeding’ the chicle from bully trees in Costa Rica. This was the substance used to make chewing gum before a synthetic concentrate became available. South America is prolific with trees of a wide description and, in the same way that Lowell Yerex was bleeding the bully trees for the chicle gum, the Ford Motor Company was doing the same thing with the rubber trees in Manaus, Brazil. It is alleged that Henry Ford offered to construct a Pan American highway, crossing several countries from the USA to Brazil, on the condition that only Ford vehicles would be permitted to drive on it for a given number of years. It appears that Brazil declined the offer. In his quest to build TACA into an airline that would cover the entire hemisphere and run with the giants, he sought the support of Great