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Up in the air

(22 Posts)
CharlotteGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 08-Aug-13 10:55:09

In her new book, Up In The Air, Betty Riegel reminisces about life as a PanAm stewardess during the 1960s - the golden age of flying.
Read her guest blog post and add your comments here.

Sunhat Thu 08-Aug-13 15:02:15

I wanted to be an air hostess when I was a girl.

Never got round to it, and I suspect it was more hard work than excitement, but the idea of travelling all over the world was pretty tempting. I might get the book.

grannyactivist Thu 08-Aug-13 15:55:12

Three of my four sisters are stewardesses with British Airways (the fourth is an international businesswoman), together they have probably clocked up almost eighty years flying international routes. They were also working class girls and the odds of all three getting through the very competitive selection process were minimal, but they did and they have had some amazing experiences. I am very proud of them.

inishowen Fri 09-Aug-13 08:42:32

I first flew when I was nine, in 1961. We went to the Isle of Man. It was so special that a photographers stood at the bottom of the steps and took our photos as we left the plane. I still have this photo, of me, and mum and dad. Dad wearing his trilby hat, and me sporting a perm!

Jackthelad Fri 09-Aug-13 09:54:04

My first flight was in a twin seater Auster observer aircraft while serving with the Royal Artillery in Germany (as the Observer). That was flying by the seat of your pants; hedge hopping; a thrill a minute. Later my first commercial flight was with BEA in an Airspeed Ambassador known as an "Elizabethian", from Dusseldorf to Heathrow; where tents were still in use for checkin and departure. These were the good old days when you strolled out from the departure area, I hesitate to say the lounge onto the tarmac and climbed up the steps to leisurely take a seat in the aircraft, no predesignated seat numbers then. That was when flying was fun. Not todays security checks hours before take off time, and then packed in tight on a budget flight for mass transit. No fun there.

Nonu Fri 09-Aug-13 10:25:32

Times have changed dramatically though , Jack .


feetlebaum Fri 09-Aug-13 10:47:24

My first flying experiences were all in piston-engined RAF Transport Command aircraft - the Handley Page Hastings, the Pig (Vickers Valetta), the Blackburn Beverley and the Percival Pembroke. All over the Middle East and East Africa - hour upon hour - sometimes sitting on the freight, and the floor for take-off and landing...

No stewardesses, no smoking, no booze - no nice padded walls - just bare metal! Ee it were grim up theer...

feetlebaum Fri 09-Aug-13 10:51:06

And people used to dress up to fly, didn't they? My first experience of a civilian jet was a trip to Paris in an Air France Caravelle - suits and ties! That was the first time I encountered a jolie laide, a stewardess who could never be called pretty - face like a hatchet - but rivetingly attractive! Had to be French, I suppose...

JessM Fri 09-Aug-13 11:29:16

I dress to fly - no tight waistbands, layers (because you never know how whether planes will be warm or cold) and flight socks. Lovely.

Nonu Fri 09-Aug-13 11:45:56

I dress in cool clothing , short sleeves , etc as I find they overheat these planes .

snailspeak Fri 09-Aug-13 14:51:53

Mon dieu! Cararavelle? I took my first flight on one of these, London to Paris, at the age of 15 - the first one in my family to fly. It was a unique experience totally without fear. The worst bit was the train journey to Limoges where I was an au-pair to six children and mum with one on the way. Nowadays we hear about air-prox and crashes so some fear comes into the equation of flying. When we took our daughter on her first flight we all decided to bet on when the aeroplane would take off and then later land. Took all the fear out of flying.

Forward some years and, as cabin crew, our daughter knew too much and became a nervous flyer and then my husband joined suit as he started studying the reasons for plane crashes. I have never bothered and have decided that, in the event of a crash, I shall know nothing about it.

Jackthelad Sat 10-Aug-13 09:38:43

Have any of you tried helicopters. I thought on my first flight in a whirlybird that take off would be like going a humpty back bridge in a car travelling fast giving that thrill in the stomach, but no it was more like a ride in a slow elevator and so very very noisy. I can see by the messages posted that some of us are of pioneer stock and have enjoyed the grace and gentiliy; if having to rough it a bit in the early days of flying

Ella46 Sat 10-Aug-13 09:45:49

My first flight was also in an Auster twin seater, and I was in the 'dicky' seat aged about 8 or 9.
My cousin's husband had a pilots licence and he took me to Blackpool for a treat.....................I was sick in the pages of my comic!

Ella46 Sat 10-Aug-13 09:47:33

Yes Jack, I've also flown in a helicopter, good visability but I wasn't particularly impressed.

Galen Sat 10-Aug-13 10:42:56

I've flown in one to the Isles of Scilly on business. It was the week after one had crashed on the same route.
I've also flown in a piper Cherokee to island of Alderney, but the most terrifying flight I had was returning from visiting my DD who lived in Alderney,the trial dear suddenly veered off the runway, bumped across a ploughed field, and dropped off the edge of the cliff!shock
Apparently, my Dd had known they were going to do that because of the wind direction. It's known as 'the grass runway'. (Felt more like a rutted farm track to me. I didn't know you could use the same method to get airborne as hang gliders either!)

Galen Sat 10-Aug-13 10:44:07

Trial dear? Try trilander! (iPad doesn't know about modified islanders)

snailspeak Sat 10-Aug-13 11:05:00

I did the helicopter tour of New York and loved it as did my husband who had always hated helicopters after his first flight in one leaning out of the door to take photos. Not for fun - it was part of his job.

Nonu Sat 10-Aug-13 11:21:42

We took a helicopter flight over the grand Canyon , It was Okay would not rush to do it again .

Anne58 Sat 10-Aug-13 11:22:20

My mother worked for a small executive jet company, and my step father was a pilot. Until I was 22 I had only ever flown in planes piloted by someone I knew!

Step father also a Fournier motorised glider, huge fun, take off using the engine, then cut it and glide. The aerobatics can be a bit alarming though, especially one called a barrel roll.

nannymoocow Mon 12-Aug-13 18:35:40

The book sounds really interesting - have just ordered from Amazon

merlotgran Mon 12-Aug-13 18:46:33

I used to be full of admiration for Air Hostesses in the 1950s. We flew all over the Middle East and the turbulence was often terrifying for a nervous ten year old. Despite their glamorous appearance I thought they had the worst job in the world as so many passengers were air sick.

My DIL is a senior flight attendant for Monarch and has had a very good career.

SirKevin Wed 14-Aug-13 05:31:44

Never went up in a helicopter though my 5-year-old daughter did. Scared to death of them myself!