Bill Bateman could write a book about the interesting journey of his life which has included a career in the aviation industry and as a realtor for the past three decades or so.
And along the way he rubbed shoulders with mega celebrities such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Phil Harris.
Many years of his career, as a pilot and mechanic, were spent with commercial and charter airlines throughout Canada and the High Arctic before becoming involved with corporate aviation and helicopter operations supporting the petroleum industry throughout British Columbia, Alberta, the High Arctic, the East Coast Offshore and Hydro Quebec projects.
‘With a successful helicopter operation, my company made the decision to purchase $4,000,000 of-state-of-the-art turbine helicopters to support my petroleum company clients,” writes Bateman on his company website.
“When the federal Government enacted the National Energy Policy which removed the Petroleum Industry incentives to explore for Arctic Oil and Gas deposits, a major number of oil companies and support agencies moved their operations out of Canada. As a consequence, like many other support industry companies at the time, my helicopter operations did not survive.”
And that’s when Bateman’s career took a twist and he became a real estate agent – out of necessity.
“I lost everything. I lost my house with a swimming pool in Varsity Estates. I lost the whole nine yards and I ended up in a basement suite. What happened after that my daughter said ‘why don’t you go in and do real estate because you’re a salesman?’ So I thought I’d go into real estate until I can get a real job. And that was 30 some years ago,” jokes Bateman.
“The only other option I had was to go into real estate. At that time the market was going flat on its ass and I got into it just to see if I could make some money and pull myself out of the bind that I was in. As it turned out, it worked out fairly well. I was quite successful and still am quite successful.”
His connection to Hollywood celebrities came through Frank McMahon of Westcoast Transmission who offered Bateman a job in Vancouver where he spent seven years running the maintenance part of the company’s aviation business.
“Frank McMahon was educated at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where Crosby was. They became very close friends. Crosby would come up to Vancouver with different parties. Bob Hope the same. Phil Harris the same thing. And a whole bunch of other people. Johnny Longden of course. The next thing you know McMahon owned Majestic Prince, a horse they used in the Kentucky Derby which they won,” said Bateman.
“I used to fly back and forth to Palm Desert, Palm Springs, and Palm Beach as well. Down to L.A. and New York and a whole bunch of places. That’s how I got to be rubbing elbows with all these characters.”
From a pilot and mechanic in the aviation industry to a realtor, Bateman’s career journey has been an interesting and successful one with many twists and turns along the way.