Captain Hal "Mac" McNicol
This is a short biography of Capt. Hal McNicol Jr., known to many in aviation, as “Mac”. He was a Navy Pilot all during WWII and he has flown to 129 countries and logged over 25,000 hours with several Airlines including 4 airlines Bouraq Indonesian, shown top left, Bayu Indonesian, Air Bali and Eagle Airlines of Iceland, shown top right, that his company Flight Crews International, Inc. (FCI) had under contract. These companies had Boeing 707’s and/or 720B’s. It all started on Dec.7th 1941. Mac was a student at UCLA. His NROTC Unit let the cadets know, “We Urgently Need Pilots.” He signed up. Spent almost 4 years in the Navy and was lucky in getting assigned to a Utility Squadron VJ-16. After the War, Mac joined Pacific Overseas Airlines (POA) of Ontario, CA, flying DC-4’s on daily service across the Pacific via Honolulu, Johnson Island, Kwajalein, Guam, Iwo Jima and Tokyo on a MATS contract.
In Jan. 1947, he was selected as F/O to deliver a DC-4 to PIA in Lima, Peru. This all-new Peruvian airline was called Peruvian International Airways (PIA) with routes from New York to Santiago, Chile. While in Peru, POA lost their MATS contract and Mac was invited to stay with PIA. A year later friends got him an interview with Pan American Grace Airways (Panagra) with routes from Miami to Buenos Aires via all the countries on the West Coast of South America. Photo at center left shows Mac and an Alpaca at LaPaz, Bolivia. Elev. 14,404 ft. Panagra was planning to extend their routes across the Pacific rom Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island, Papeeté, Auckland and Sydney. Mac was the first in a class of 15 hired. A year’s leave in 1950 allowed Mac to fly DC-4’s across the Pacific for Seaboard & Western Airlines during the Korean War. Back in Lima he met a wonderful girl from Germany who lived just a block away. Went together for a year and got married in 1953. As most of the South American countries expanded their own airlines, Panagra was forced to reduce their service. Mac was furloughed in 1961 just as he finished building “The Blue Dolphin”, a beach front Motel on Sanibel Island off the coast of Ft. Meyers, Florida. After turning it over to his Resident Manager, he got hired by Air America and flew DC-6B’s out of Tachikawa, Japan all over Southeast Asia. Before school was out and Ursula could bring their 4 children over, he got a telegram offering a position with an airline in Miami he had helped get started earlier.
Returned to Miami only to find they were $50,000 in debt. Within days, the New York Rep. for Trans Mediterranean Airways (TMA) called and asked if Mac could come to Beirut and fly their first DC-6B. Mac and his family stayed 7 years in Beirut where he flew DC-6B’s (shown left at Beirut Airport) all over Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Orient. Beirut was the “Paris of Middle East and TMA was a great and steadily expanding airline so when Braniff sent him a “Recall” telegram in 1965, he turned it down. Two years later Pres. Nasser of Egypt needled Israel into the June War of 1967. By 1970 Mac had to get his family out of Beirut so he joined Transavia Holland in Amsterdam flying DC-6B’s all over Europe, the Caribbean and Africa (including the Biafra War flights out of Sao Tomé off the coast of Nigeria).
Two years later, he checked out in the Boeing 707 (shown upper right) and had the Polar run from AMS to LAX. A year later, he changed over to a summer contract pilot (Apr.15 to Oct.15) and moved his family to West Los Angeles. The following year, the Chief Pilot asked him to find an experienced 707 crew. He did and they did a great job so whenever someone needed pilots or an F/E, the company said “call Mac.” Little by little, Mac was helping a lot of pilots and flight engineers get jobs. Some time later Transavia got into a hassle with their Dutch agents in California, so they stopped flying to the states. Mac elected to stay in California. He was hired by Mercer Airlines, flying DC-6B’s at Burbank. Mercer had a Navy contract to San Clemente Island from Long Beach and North Island and to Santa Rosa Island from Pt. Mugu. A New FAA certificated Boeing 707 freight airline called Aires Air Cargo with worldwide authority and three 707 freighters was starting up out of LAX and Mac was asked to fly for them. Mac flew one trip and while waiting to take the next trip to Taipei, the “African Elephant” contract” put them out of business. Mac was then asked to join C.E.S.(Contemporary Entertainment Services) at LAX with (2) Boeing 720’s (Starship shown above left and the Chariot). He flew numerous tours throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe with all the top bands like Elton John, John Denver, Mick Jagger, Olivia Newton John, The Almond Bros. Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond, Peter Frampton & Fleetwood Mac on Spring, Summer and Fall tours. Mac also flew VIP’s from all over the world to Caesar’s Palace Hotel in Las Vegas.
While still flying in the mid 1970’s, Mac founded Flight Crews International, Inc. (FCI), a crew leasing, consulting and pilot employment company and in 1980 incorporated and moved into offices at LAX. He spent 23 years finding jobs for pilots, starting airlines and leasing crews to airlines that included LTU, Air Pacific, United, Asiana and over 20 others. At age 82, Mac sold FCI to Air Inc. in Atlanta, GA and retired. Three years later Mac and his wife Ursula sold their home in West Los Angeles and moved to Rancho Bernardo, a beautiful retirement community close to San Diego