C. Paul Johnston, chairman and chief executive of First Colonia Bankshares, Chicago, admits that military pilots sometimes make daredevil flights before turning in their wings. You know, flying through the Gateway Arch or below the Golden Gate Bridge. Mr. Johnson won't say if he himself pushed the envelope of prudence before leaving the Air Force back in 1955. However, he does say that, nowadays just before landing his airplane at his Lander, Wyo., ranch, he likes to make a "gunnery run" -- roaring over his ranch hands and flashing past the windows of his hilltop house.

Mr. Johnson's presumption that the plane and its working parts won't fail him during his flybys is similar to his mandate for his 16 subsidiary banks -- which have their own presidents and directors.

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