Friday, September 17, 2010

This Column Is A Crop...

I was discharged from the army in 1961 and returned to Beaumont and began working as a staff accountant with the C.P.A. firm of Maschek, Hamby, Miller, Miller, Funchess and White. My favorite area of accounting was auditing. I sat for the Texas C.P.A. exam and passed law and auditing. I never retested for the other two segments.

One day my dad, Woodie J. Hamby who also was one of my six bosses, sent me out to a local crop dusting service to do a visual audit of their crop dusting airplanes. He gave me a list of the planes including their respective registration numbers.

The air service owned 42 Stearman biwing single engine aircraft. Each one had been converted to crop dusting capability. My assignment was to verify the registration number of each plane and check that each plane was still in active inventory.

I drove to the small private airport and met one of the managers. He gave me a tour of the aircraft which were lined up alongside a narrow dirt runway.

All of the planes checked off against the list with the exception of four. So I asked the manager where a certain plane was. He replied that the craft was in Mississippi on a crop dusting contract and would not be back till the following week. Then I inquired about one of the other missing planes. The manager said, “Oh, we sold that plane last January.” This required a lot of info as to sales price, adjusting the projected depreciation, and writing off the plane from assets.

The next missing plane presented a more complex accounting problem. A problem I had never encountered in a college accounting textbook.

I asked, pointing to my list, “Where is this plane?” The manager said, “Oh yeah, that one crashed.” I inquired as to how that had happened. He said, “Well, the plane ran out of gas and the pilot tried gliding to a landing on a little two-rut dirt road. However, he ran between two trees and tore the wings off.”

“So we need to write off this one, right?” He replied, “Well not all of it. The fuselage was still good. Just so happens that a few months ago our mechanics dropped an engine on another plane, destroying the fuselage. The wings were good so we connected those good wings to the good fuselage of that earlier crash.”

I mumbled, “Where is the plane that was made from the two wrecks?” He motioned, “It’s right over here.” There it was. A plane that had one registration number on the fuselage and a different number on the wings. I said, “You can’t do that, can you?” “Don’t know if we can do it or not but we did.” I explained that I thought we would have to remove the two wrecks from inventory and obtain a new registration number for the newly constructed craft. He retorted, “I don’t see why we have to do that. The fuselage has a valid number and the wings have a valid number. Putting the two together makes a plane that has already been registered. In fact, it has been registered twice.”

That’s where the last two planes were. They were wrecked but were merged into another plane that wasn’t registered even though it had two different valid registration numbers.

I asked to borrow a phone and called my dad. “Dad, I need some help out here at the crop dusting place. There is a plane that does not exist but has been registered twice and then there are two registered planes that halfway exist and halfway do not exist.”

Then I said, “Dad, I have decided that I am going into banking.” And I did.

But that’s another story for another day.

Winston Hamby


Anonymous Brian  said...

That's funny!!! I've never heard that one before.

Thu Oct 21, 02:39:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Winston  said...

Oh yes...there are many additional reasons why I ended up in the ministry for 28 years...

Wed Dec 01, 10:28:00 AM 2010  

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