Friday, July 16, 2010
Just giving you a call to ask you to come with me for a ride back to the 1950s on a Northwest Airlines Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser! Remember that double deck airplane with the lounge 'downstairs' and the flight deck that looked like a greenhouse? That's the one! We will take off from Golden Valley Library, 830 Winnetka Avenue, Golden Valley, MN on Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 1300 hours (1:00 p.m.) sharp.
Your ticket is free - sponsored by the Friends of the Golden Valley Library. Enjoy pop tunes from the '50s just as they were played on the organ onboard NWA Stratocruiser ship no. 709. Sip on some 'bubbly' as we wing our way back to the golden era of passenger flight through stories and vintage photos from my book, Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels. And, if you have your own stories or photos from those glamorous days when passengers dressed 'to the nines' for their flights, please bring them too!
Hope to see you there!
P.S. Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels is going into it's second printing next week.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The World's First Flight Attendant on a Conventional Aircraft
The world's first flight attendant to serve on a conventional aircraft was Jack Sanderson, who was hired in 1922, at the age of 14, by The Daimler Airway, one of several small air carriers who together would eventually become British Airways.
There are two known photos of him. This is the earliest. Sadly, he died the following year in a plane crash.
Several other airlines hired men in the capacity of airline steward during the 1920s. In 1930, Boeing Air Transport hired Ellen Church, who became the world's first airline stewardess. Boeing Air Transport eventually became one component of the amalgamated United Airlines, which is why United is often incorrectly stated to be the airline which hired her.
But wait! The world's first flight attendant on airships predates even Jack Sanderson.
He was Heinrich Kubis, who began caring for passengers and serving food aboard the DELAG zeppelin LZ-10 Schwaben, in March, 1912. Heinrich also served on the LZ-120 Bodensee, the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin and LZ-129 Hindenburg. Kubis worked alone on the early zeppelins, but there was an assistant steward and cook aboard the 20-passenger Graf Zeppelin, and a team of 10-15 cooks and stewards aboard the 72-passenger Hindenburg. Kubis was in the Hindenburg's dining room when the ship burst into flame at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937. When the ship sank close enough to the ground, Kubis encouraged passengers and crew to jump from the windows and jumped to safety himself. He testified at the inuiry into the Hindenburg disaster and then returned to Germany, where he lived until his death in the 1970s.
For fascinating photographs and detailed history of these luxurious airships and their crews, please follow this link.
(Ellen Church, we mean you no slight, but these guys Jack and Heinrich were way ahead of you!)
Many thanks to one of my favorite aviation historians, Bob DuBert, for turning me on to these wonderful profiles of early flight attendants.
Monday, July 12, 2010
This story has a "Twist"
It seems that nearly every day another "50 years ago" story hits the news. It also seems that I can relate to almost all of them. Today's item involves Chubby Checker:
Alejandro A. Alvarez - Philadelphia Daily News
In a flash I am back in Dick and Harriet Johnson's living room in a Richfield, Minnesota apartment. It is late summer, 1960. We are doing "The Twist" to Chubby Checker's hit record. (Yes record!) I have been married since February of that year and thus "retired" from NWA, as was the rule at the time. The apartment is small - the living room hardly large enough to accommodate several couples gyrating to the music. Woody Carr, Dick and Harriet's neighbor and a freshly-minted co-pilot for North Central, is really into it and suddenly crashes through their glass-top coffee table. Chagrined and embarrassed, Woody promised to replace the broken glass table top. I'm sure he did. We sure had fun! What great memories to start today with.
Does anybody else have a "Twist" memory? Please share.