Thursday, May 22, 2014

Howie Wing, A Saga of Aviation

"Howie Wing, A Saga of Aviation," was a children's radio serial about a young pilot and friends who foiled spies and smugglers with some fancy flying. Written by Captain Willfred Gibbs Moore, a flying reservist who served as a pilot in WWI,  Howie Wing was considered authentic and educational."  
From  Kellogg's and Howie Wing, by Kathy Hammel, Radio Recall, June 2007, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club.
Earlier this year, in my tribute to Helen Jacobson Richardson, I mentioned having seen a newspaper clipping at Helen's memorial about the first dramatic broadcast in radio history made from an airplane, "Howie Wing, a Saga of Aviation." Helen was the stewardess. Below she is pictured with (l-r) Bill Janney, who played the part of "Howie", sound effects man Alexander Binnie and actor Robert Strauss on an unspecified United Airlines airplane,  January 20, 1939.
Minneapolis Star, January 20, 1939, courtesy Mary Jo Nelson, Helen Richardson's daughter

I visited the NWA History Centre and the Minnesota Historical Society, searching their Northwest archives for news of this flight.  No luck.  I entreated Helen Jacobson Richardson's children to search for the newspaper clipping I had seen at her memorial, still assuming that she was working for Northwest at the time of the flight.  Mary Jo Nelson came up with the photo above and sent it to me. The photo's caption reminded me that Helen had flown for United before joining Northwest that same year, 1939.  No wonder there was no mention in Northwest Airlines archives anywhere.  The clipping Mary Jo sent me had no source or date.  I took it back to the Minnesota Historical Society to their Gale Family Library newspaper collection and found the above clipping in The Minneapolis Star, Jan. 20, 1939.

In the process Lady Skywriter became enamored of Howie Wing, and set out to find out more about him. I discovered a wonderful resource for old radio shows, The Metropolitan Washington Old-Timer Radio Club. I requested information about Howie Wing, and was put in touch with Jack French, editor of Radio Recall, the organization's newsletter.  He, in turn, referred me to Kathy Hammel, their Howie Wing expert.  Kathy responded immediately and began educating me on Howie Wing.

Stay tuned to learn more about Howie Wing, A Saga of Aviation.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Former Northwest Airlines Leader Steve Rothmeier Dead at 67

Steve Rothmeier at NWA History Centre in 2004, wearing the unique sport coat made of 747-400 seat upholstery fabric given him by Boeing President Dean Thornton upon the rollout of the new airplane in January, 1989

According to a front-page story in today's Minneapolis StarTribune, another former NWA leader has left us.  Steve Rothmeier came to Northwest from General Mills in 1973 and in 1985, at age 38, became CEO. Following in the footsteps of CEO's Donald Nyrop and Joe Lapensky preceding him, he grew the fiscally conservative and financially stable airline through the turbulent 1980s of deregulation and the acquisition of Republic Airlines.  In 1989 the company was acquired by a former board member, Gary Wilson, and California financier Al Checchi, in a debt-loaded deal. Rothmeier stepped aside in late 1989. Burdened with debt, the airline struggled in the early 1990s.  Rothmeier started a St. Paul investment firm after leaving Northwest.

For more on my favorite Rothmeier story, see the Hangar Talk page in the June, 2011, Reflections 

Come to the NWA History Centre to see and touch this legendary jacket
Jacket photos by Robert DuBert

Steve's funeral will be in St. Paul on Wednesday, May 28 at 10 a.m.  Visitation Tuesday evening, May 27.  Click on this link for details. 

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bob Reardon's 90th Birthday Party ~ Thanks for the Photos, Richard Moody!

A gathering of former Pursers to mark the occasion.
l-r  Bruce Retrum, Bob, Richard Moody, Lou Reynolds 
Look at the blaze!  That's a lot of candles, Bob.
I love the message on Bob's cake:  "Robert is 90! Happy Birthday! Otherwise All is Lovely & Serene"

All the well-wishers at Bob's 90th . . .

. . . plus Lady Skywriter and countless others who have flown with you 
and admire your style, as you continue your 63rd year in the air, Bob!

Keep Flyin' High and Having Fun

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Friday, May 9, 2014

As Northwest Airlines In-Flight Food Service Manager, Al Carriveau Knew How to "Dish"

I am sad to report that Al Carriveau passed away May 3.  Al was a retired 38-year employee of NWA, former board member of Wings Financial and at the time of his death, still serving as a Director for the NWA History Centre, which he co-founded in 2002.
Third Anniversary of the NWAHC in 2005
Directors John Peterson, Pete Patzke,  Jerry Nielsen and Al Carriveau; in the
middle is Geoff Jones, author of Northwest Airlines, the First 80 Years 

You Dined the Best when you Flew Northwest! Al traveled the world for Northwest, setting up airline food service in far-flung destinations.  "Northwest had flight kitchens where meals were prepared from scratch in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Billings, Seattle, Anchorage and Tokyo," Al recalled. We also operated bars and restaurants in several airports."

Visitors to the History Centre may peruse a 238-page food service manual that Northwest used during Al's era when Northwest passengers actually complimented servers after the meal.  Affectionately nicknamed the "Bullwinkel Book", after a vice president of the airline, you can scan almost 500 recipes in twelve food categories.

Some tempting offerings include Veal Scallopine with Marsala wine, "Garden of Eden Pie," and Swedish Cardamon Bread.  My all time favorite was, of course, the Fujiyama hors d'euvres tray, which I served on the Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser with champagne and scented Oshibori Towels before the prime rib dinner in the 1950s.
Fujiyama Tray made by Anne and her son Rick for her book launch at the NWAHC
Al said it was "pretty close to the original," high praise, I felt.
Al and Anne speaking at the book launch of Fuiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels in 2009
Al welcomed me warmly in 2009 when I became a Director at the NWAHC.  He was a gentleman who had vast knowledge of our dear departed airline and it's people. I loved his stories, his ideas, and especially the twinkle in his eye.  I will miss him.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Robert Reardon! 90 Years Young Today. And Still Flying !!!

Bob Reardon and Bonnie Vork in B-377 Stratocruiser galley 1950s
Photo taken in flight by Anne Billingsley, Lady Skywriter
After 56 years of flying, featured in American Express  magazine, Departures, Mar-April 2008
Bob and Anne at "Remembering Donald Nyrop" event at NWA History Centre, June, 2011
See Summer Special Edition 2011 Reflections page 2
Mary Ann Gallagher, Bill Marchessault, Bob Reardon, Fay Kulenkamp and Maggie McMahon
NWA flight attendants in vintage uniforms at "Remembering Donald Nyrop", June, 2011
To mark Bob's 60 years of service, a huge celebration was held at the Officer's Club at MSP.  Pictured here,
Mitch (Radisson Narita) and Bob with event planners extraordinaire Richard Moody and Lori Rothmund
See Fall, 2011 Reflections, page 9
Jean Carlson Schreier, Bob and Anne at 60th
NRT Earthquake Flight Crew with Bob at Center back
See story in June 2011 Reflections, page 3

So what's next, Bob?  Are you up for another party?  Your 65th Anniversary is coming up in 2016.
Happy, happy birthday and many more.  I loved flying to D.C. with you, first eating lunch at Bassins and then doing the town.  That was back when Ike was president and Elvis was "king."  And we got to work on the Stratocruiser.  Grand Memories.
Best wishes for many more from your old flying partner, Anne (Lady Skywriter) Billingsley Kerr

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Marianne Blomquist, Former NWA President Donald Nyrop's Secretary, Passes Away

A great lady has left us. In her heyday, Marianne Blomquist was secretary to NWA President Donald Nyrop, and spent a total of 42 years of loyal service working for our beloved airline.  She has been a frequent visitor to the NWA History Centre over the years, thanks to her dear friend Shirley Huskins offering to drive when Marianne's vision failed.

Her memorial service will be held Tuesday, May 6, at Normandale Lutheran Church, Edina, MN.  See StarTribune obituary for details.

Marianne at the NWA History Centre, Nov. 2, 2013 for the book launch of author Jack El Hai's "Non-Stop"
Friend Shirley Huskins on the left
Marianne relating great stories about her boss, Donald Nyrop, at the "Remembering Donald Nyrop"
tribute at the NWA History Centre, June 11, 2011
We'll miss you, Marianne.  

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