We are a sad to say a belated goodbye to Richard Anderson, 91, the actor who played the “Oscar Goldman” boss character in the very famous fictional 1970s TV series the “Six Million Dollar Man”. He died at the end of August. The series followed the adventures of astronaut and test pilot Steve Austin, played by Lee Majors, who suffers major injuries in a NASA lifting body spaceplane crash and then was rebuilt with a super-strength “bionic” robotic arm and legs (and eye). In the plot, his bodily repairs cost US$6 million – now about US$38 million in today’s money – hence the name of the series.
On the subject of former bosses, Seradata team would also like to say a sad goodbye and thank you to Andrew Gleadow, one of our former bosses when the Seradata team was at Airclaims. Andrew, who sadly recently died from cancer at the age of 79, had a varied career starting as a pilot in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, before working as a pilot for Shell, then as a chartered engineer, and finally as the Commercial Director at Airclaims.
When it comes to escapes from air crashes, Andrew could teach a few things to the Steve Austin fictional character above. His claim to fame was that as a Royal Navy jet pilot he (along with his navigator Peter King) ejected from a crashing Buccaneer S1 fighter bomber when one of its two Gyron Junior engines suddenly lost thrust (as they were apt to do). Andrew’s aircraft was doing a touch and go landing after he missed the fourth wire on the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle in the South China Sea at the time. His 1965 ejection photo reportedly adorned the foyer of Martin Baker – the manufacturer of the very helpful ejection seat.
While Andrew Gleadow’s crew mates were relieved he and his fellow aviator Peter King had survived, they were also annoyed. Andrew’s Buccaneer aircraft had been carrying their clothes and golf clubs inside its rotating bomb bay, which it had been transferring from a land base when it crashed.
Despite being injured in the ejection, Andrew was able to carry on with his naval aviation career and was briefly involved in test flying the Buccaneer S2 which, with new Spey turbofan engines replacing the underpowered Gyron Junior turbojet engines, came to be regarded as an excellent low strike aircraft and has claims to be the best one ever.
Being a good naval man, Andrew liked his staff at Airclaims to look smart and presentable and would slightly admonish you (especially this writer) if you were not. Of course, being a Yorkshireman with a chuckling sense of humour, he was, of course, sometimes deliberately difficult to get your expenses passed him (“what – you had dessert as well?”). Thankfully, he was also susceptible to the Jedi mind control technique which usually got these through.
Then again, he knew how it was. Once, after a pair of us put in the expenses for sales celebratory lunch at a top rated restaurant in Chelsea, Andrew did have the kindness and wisdom once to remind us to at least put down that we were entertaining a client if we wanted to get our expenses through accounts! God bless Andrew.
A thank you to Andrew Gleadow and a tribute to him, and to all the other brave naval aviators who have had to do those risky arrester hook landings on aircraft carriers.
Post script: We are also sad to say good by to comedy actor John Hillerman, 84, who made his name as Magnum PI’s uptight British housemate “Higgins” in the Hawaii-based detective TV series starring Tom Selleck. Hillerman, who was actually from Texas, played uptight managerial types before in comedy films whether as the bereft hotel manager in What’s Up Doc (1972) or as a townsman in Blazing Saddles (1974).