Saturday, March 27, 2010

Leeann Chin

Leeann Chin emigrated to Minneapolis from Guangzhou, China in 1956, the same year I started flying with Northwest Airlines. To my knowledge our paths didn't cross until the early 1980s when we were both active in the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and MINNWE, Minnesota Women Entrepreneurs.
Leeann and I participated as panelists exploring the business of women in leadership roles on several occasions. She didn't shrink from sharing family resistance to her career, always with humor and grace - not always with tact, which delighted her audiences. One of my favorite memories is a day Leeann cooked for several of us in her Kenwood kitchen.
Leeann died on March 10, 2010, on Bainbridge Island near Seattle. Funeral services were held today in Edina, MN. Our paths diverged many years ago and I regret not keeping in touch. My love and best wishes to her family and all of her other friends, past and present, who mourn her passing.

Friday, March 26, 2010


No, not 'yuk' as in laugh, 'yuk' as in sick.
I was able to stick it out through the first episode of "Fly Girls" because I could switch back and forth to PBS to stay anchored to real reality.
As far as I can tell, this 'reality show' stretches the definition of 'real' beyond belief. This is not a show about airlines or flight attendants in the real world.
And although I shouldn't dignify its existence by pointing out the absurdity of the beach-front 'crash pad' these women live in, I guess I just can't resist bringing it to your attention.
Now if you want a soap opera about flight crews, you may find that Virgin Atlantic can't hold a candle to USAir!
And the USAir soap opera is real. Really.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Fly Girls' plays into airline stereotypes

'Fly Girls' plays into airline stereotypes

Couldn't agree more! And alas, the first episode of 'Fly Girls' will be carried by my cable provider after all. I guess I have no excuse but to watch at least a part of it, so I can render my own opinion. We all know, however, what that is likely to be. I'm certainly not asking any of my readers to tune in, but on the outside chance you do, please share your thoughts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh My, Fly Girls? A Reality Show?

I suppose it had to happen. Check this out. A new reality show called Fly Girls begins Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 8 p.m. on WUCW, Ch 23 in the MSP area. Check TV listings elsewhere. Unfortunately, my basic cable blacks out Ch 23. The show chronicles the lives of five working cabin attendants.
Lady Skywriter is speechless. Ok, Ok, so television in the 1950's was more Aunt Bea than jet-setting stewardesses. In any event I wait with bated breath to hear just how 'real' this reality show is. Do let me know what you think after you've seen it. I guess I'm almost relieved I am not able to watch it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Salute to the WASPS!

Betty Wall Strohfus, Faribault, MN
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

What a timely follow-up to my last post, a reprint of an article from the NWA NewsLetter of December 28, 1944, announcing the hiring of Florence Kerr as Director, Women's Division, traffic, promotion and public relations.
In the waning days of WWII, Northwest Airlines made a cutting edge decision to hire Florence for the purpose of getting women interested in aviation. As passengers, you understand, heaven forbid as pilots!
My, my. I do think they were on to something. Because women had already been showing an interest in aviation, they were flying military aircraft - yes flying, as opposed to riding in, all manner of bombers, fighters and even shouldering the unenviable task of towing targets for artillery practice. They were known as WASPS (Women's Airforce Service Pilots.)
About the same time Florence Kerr went to work for NWA in January 1945 as a promoter for women passengers, Betty Wall Strohfus (pictured above) found the same door firmly closed to the idea of a woman flying a commercial airliner. The WASP had been deactivated at the end of December, 1944 and when Betty returned home to Minnesota in 1945 she tried to get a job with Northwest Airlines. They said, "we don't hire women."
Nearly 200 surviving members of the WASP were honored in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and received the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's highest civilian honors. Long overdue, but much appreciated.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We've Come A Long Way, Baby!

My "other job," non-remunerative, I hasten to add, is writing and editing Reflections, the quarterly newsletter of the NWA History Centre. While doing research for the March, 2010 issue, I came across this gem in the NWA H.C. archives. The weekly NWA employee newsletter, named "NEWS Letter," funnily enough, and dated December 28, 1944, featured this front-page story:

Florence Kerr Takes NWA Post
Mrs. Florence Kerr, director of war public services of the Federal Works Agency in Washington, has resigned that position and will join Northwest Airlines on January 1 as director, women's division, traffic, promotion and public relations.
Announcement of the appointment was made today by President Croil Hunter.
Her activities with NWA, Mr. Hunter said, will be devoted principally to stimulating interest among women in air travel and educating women's groups in the convenience and comfort offered by commercial aviation.
"This is an important work," Mr. Hunter asserted. "Promotional work among women's groups is a field which has been largely overlooked by the airlines.
"Surveys have indicated that women exert a significant influence on methods of transportation to be used by all types of travelers. By bringing to the attention of women the advantages of air travel, the commercial airlines industry can gain the support of an extremely important public element.
"With so many sons now in war flying, women are certain to have a new aviation-consciousness when these boys return. The job of helping to develop that interest among women everywhere holds a unique importance for the entire airline industry."
Can't help but wonder what Florence Kerr, if she is still with us, thinks about women in aviation today. I guess one could say she did her job well in 1945, since if she got on a commercial airliner today, chances are her Captain is a woman, the air traffic controller guiding her through the skies is a woman and women have already lived in the space station. Way to go, Florence!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tongue in cheek Department . . .

If we don't laugh, we'll cry!

Thanks to retired NWFA Bob DuBert for this great cartoon.