Monday, February 16, 2004

Air National Gardener 2 - Operation Flying Shrub 

Update concerning Bush's "tropical plant" air express missions in 1971.

Thanks to commenter Peanut for the Stratford tip. See earlier post Air National Gardener

For background timeline on airman Bush's "tropical plant" missions see Mother Jones Spring 1971: "Bush is hired by a Texas agricultural importer. He uses a National Guard F-102 to shuttle tropical plants from Florida."

More on Bush's unusual flight patterns. From the Washington Post 1999.
Following excerpts via WaPo: By George Lardner Jr. and Lois Romano | Washington Post Staff Writers |Wednesday, July 28, 1999; Page A1.

Bush called Robert H. Gow, a Yale man who had roomed with the senior Bush's cousin Ray in college and who had been an executive at the senior Bush's Zapata Off-Shore Co. In 1969, Gow left Zapata and started Stratford of Texas, a Houston-based agricultural company with diverse interests: from cattle to chickens to indoor, non-blooming tropical plants.

"We weren't looking for someone, but I thought this would be a talented guy we should hire, and he was available," Gow said. In early 1971, Gow gave Bush a job as a management trainee. He was required to wear a coat and tie and dispatched around the country and even to Central America, looking for plant nurseries that Stratford might acquire. [...]


"We traveled to all kinds of peculiar places, like Apopka, Florida, which was named the foliage capital of the world," said Peter C. Knudtzon, another Zapata alumnus who was Stratford's executive vice president and Bush's immediate boss.

Once or twice a month, Bush would announce that he had flight duty and off he would go, sometimes taking his F-102 from Houston to Orlando and back. "It was really quite amazing," Knudtzon said. "Here was this young guy making acquisitions of tropical plants and then up and leaving to fly fighter planes."

So, um, it would appear that the "tropical plants" Bush was transporting were himself, and perhaps, Stratford VP Peter C. Knudtzon as well. (? ? I'm just asking ? ?) Flying around the country searching for prospective Stratford of Texas business acquisitions? In an F-102? That would make more sense than actually transporting agricultural products in a fighter plane, but.....


1- Was Bush allowed to use an F-102 fighter plane to dispatch himself from "Houston to Orlando and back" shopping for nurseries on behalf of Robert H. Gow, the college roomate-buddy of "cousin Ray" and, surprise surprise, a former executive with Poppy Bush's Zapata Off-Shore Co? (if that was the case, as the Mother Jones timeline might suggest) - OR - Did those flights from Houston to Orlando have nothing at all to do with Bush's work with Stratford of Texas? Were Texas Air Guard flights from Houston to Orlando a routine event?

2- Who in the Air National Guard would authorize the use of government fighter planes for such private business purposes (if that was the case) - and why?

I dunno. The whole family is off-shore if you ask me.


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