The Conner Conspiracy

He was an aviation classic: independent, stubborn, savvy. And he was convinced powerful forces were out to ruin him. Did that include government informants and federal agents? Gus Conner will never know.

Hemming does grant, however, that he wanted to control the investigation of Conner's problems and oversee any legal actions: "I said, 'Gus, you work for me. I'm here to save your fucking business. I'm here to apply every fucking talent I have A as a pilot, as an administrator, and in the intelligence and legal fields.

The whole fucking schmeer. Changing your corporate structure, moving you to Delaware, Virginia, to an offshore holding company A whatever it takes. You've got a mom-and-pop operation here, and that invites retaliation. You've probably got a million dollars in your joint account. You're FDIC'd up to only $100,000. People look at that shit and they figure you're a sucker. I'm hired to save this operation.'"

Matt Jablonowski says Conner was able to see through Hemming's bluster and fight off his bid for control. But he acknowledges that "reliable information" from sources in the all-seeing, all-knowing intelligence community can have an impact even on a strong man like Conner. "Hell, it scares me," he admits. "If I accepted half of what these guys say about our lives being manipulated by this or that group, I think I would probably kill myself."

Standing alone in Conner Air Lines's parking lot as the afternoon turns to evening, Jablonowski takes a deep breath of air, tainted by jet exhaust, as he contemplates his dead boss, friend, and mentor. "Gus was getting real frustrated by all these unconfirmed reports of spooky stuff," he muses. "I believe that when he went out to the DEA that day, he wanted to resolve it once and for all.

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