Thursday, June 30, 2011

Welcome BITS AND PIECES Subscribers

Karen Schmit tells me there is a link to this website and blog in your latest newsletter. So happy to have you here. Enjoy! (And your feedback is especially requested and will be carefully considered.)

The new Boeing 747-8. I think I finally met the match for the B-377 Stratocruiser of the 1950s. Have a look at the future!
Wonder how large the cabin crew will be on this "heavenly hotel?" The entry-way reminds me of boarding the QE-II to sail to London in the late 1980s.
Thanks to Fay Kulenkamp, retired F/A, MSP, for forwarding this.
Now I will go back to working on an event to be held at the NWA History Centre on August 6, 2011, 1-3 p.m., which honors the NWA Orient Route Pioneers; flying the (fantastic for its time) DC-4, MSP to Tokyo - a 33-hour flight with at least two crew layovers.
$5.00 per person donation to attend the event. E-mail Mary Fryer, to reserve your space. More on this in a later post.
NWA DC-4 in Tokyo, 1947
Nancy Rogers working the glamorous "4" on a MSP- Chicago Midway flight in 1957. Note the A/C system (small fans mounted to the overhead racks.

DC-4 to B-747-8 all in one blog post. We've come a long way, baby!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Northwest Airlines B-377 Stratocruiser Crew Mates Reunited After 50 years

Bob Reardon and Lady Skywriter (Anne Billingsley Kerr) 2011

A photo I took of Bob Reardon and Bonnie Murray Vork in a B-377 galley, 1957

Yesterday, June 11, 2011, I saw Bob Reardon, in person, for the first time in over 50 years!
It was at a "Coffee & Conversation" get-together at the NWA History Centre, Bloomington, Minn. as over 100 guests "Remembered Donald Nyrop," a revered former NWA CEO, who took an insolvent, broken airline and transformed it into a solvent, huge, international player. More on the event in a later post.
For today, I just want to relish being with Bob Reardon again. We met on a Stratocruiser, flying a MSP-Washington D.C. schedule, which we repeated many months during the late 1950s. It is very appropriate that there is a photograph of a Stratocruiser just over my shoulder in the above photo. In 1960 I was forced to resign my job because I got married - married stewardesses not allowed in those days. Bob, on the other hand, is still flying at age 87, for Delta, as Northwest was acquired by Delta in 2008. He is probably the longest-serving flight attendant in the world! When he was introduced at the event yesterday, the first thing he said was, "I just keep breathing."
There are many memories that include Bob Reardon. Eating lunch at Bassins, in D.C. across the street from the Willard Hotel, upon arrival. (This link to the Willard shows her in her present, zillion dollar refurbished state. Back when we stayed there she was dowdy and dusty. Great location, though.) During lunch at Bassins (blue plate special) we would plan our layover and Bob always knew the best places to eat dinner. When we could afford it we joined him. (As I recall, I made $212.50/month at the time.)
I also remember his skill at his job, when we had a runaway prop on takeoff out of MSP. He was down the aisle in a flash, pulling pillows from the overheads and leaving them on passenger's laps. I did what he told me to do. We evacuated and re-seated all the forward compartment passengers. After a successful landing and passenger deplaning back at MSP the cabin crew retreated to a restaurant in Mendota and drank scotch out of coffee cups. (We were in uniform, you see.) Meanwhile back at the airport the flight deck personnel were busily filling out forms and answering questions. Our flight did depart later in a different aircraft. It was a long day.
Bob Reardon is a living legend. I am so glad we were reunited yesterday.