Saturday, October 30, 2010

Barometric Pressure Record Would Have Given Wensell Frantzich More to Talk About

When the barometric pressure in Bigfork Minnesota plummeted to 28.20 on Tuesday, October 26, possibly setting a U.S. record, I couldn't help but think of Wensell Frantzich's barometric pressure lecture in NWA stewardess school, circa 1957.He would have loved to expound on this week's phenomena.
He called his lecture "Your Boyfriend and the Weather." It was part of our very cursory introduction to meteorology. When we settled into the classroom eagerly (?) awaiting his wisdom, he asked us a question. "When was the last time you had a fight with your boyfriend?" (Remember, those were the days when stewardesses were not allowed to be married.) He would then look up the weather report for that day and proceed to patiently explain the correlation between barometric pressure and human behavior. We would be amazed and gratified to find a "reason" for our altercations, regardless of their substance or lack, thereof, or whose fault we perceived it to be (the boyfriend or us.)
Wensell also taught first aid for the NWA Training Division. Above is the only photo of him I could unearth in the NWA History Centre archives yesterday. He is demonstrating on stewardess-in-training Mary Kay Racine. I'll bet there are more (at least better) photos - perhaps easily retrievable someday by an electronic archival cataloging system. Maybe in my lifetime? One can only hope. As soon as I raise enough money to re-upholster the pair of Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser seats donated to the museum, I'll turn my attention to archive cataloging. It's been fun to remember Wensell Frantzich. He had a great sense of humor.
So - last Tuesday on the fateful low pressure day? How did your personal interactions fare?
I was feeling no pressure at all - that I remember, anyway.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mighty Handsome Stratocruiser Scarf!

My friend Jim Anderson is teasing me with this photo of his recently acquired and beautifully framed NWA B-377 Stratocruiser scarf. I am insanely jealous. He doesn't know its history, but there is speculation that it may have been an "inaugural flight" give-away. It was certainly used for promotional purposes of some kind.
If anyone out there knows the history of this scarf or, (lucky, lucky) owns one, please share with us.
One thing you should know, Jim, if it was mine I'd be wearing it, not framing it.
Congratulations on a pretty wonderful acquisition of vintage NWA!

Do You Remember NWA Cap't. Albert T. Johnson and/or Stewardess Terry MacArthur?

Their son, Richard (Rick) Seireeni, is looking for information about his parents flying days at Northwest Airlines. Cap't. Al Johnson was based in Tokyo in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and may have lived in the Northwest Compound in Daikanyama (recently torn down.) The couple was divorced when Rick was very young and he was adopted by his step-father. Albert Johnson died in 1964 and Rick's mother, Terry, passed away two years ago.

This is the only photo Rick has of his father, NWA Captain Albert T. Johnson.

If you knew either Cap't. Al Johnson or then-stewardess Terry MacArthur, please contact Rick Seireeni at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Aircraft Evacuation Slide-1950s Style . . .

From the archives of the NWA History Centre, Bloomington, MN
This photograph, dated March 20, 1958, shows Cliff Northfield demonstrating how to use a manually operated aircraft evacuation slide. I remember attending a training session for this slide. It was stored near the main cabin door, I don't remember exactly where. We were instructed to attach it to the open door and kick it out so it would fall to the ground.
Here's Cliff again, letting himself down one side of the slide, arm over arm. The sides were attached to a bar that was fastened midway across the door. The idea was two strong males (volunteer passengers?) would be selected to clamber down as Cliff is, and once at the bottom they would hold the slide taut and at a slight angle, allowing passengers to slide down to safety after they removed shoes and any other sharp objects.
It is a wonder more people weren't injured from the evacuation slide experience - both employees and passengers!
Thank goodness I was never in a situation where the slide needed to be used.
Anybody out there ever have to use one in real time?