Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Trans World Air Life

Today I was asked about an earlier chapter in my adult life:
TWA Flight Attendant.

It's been a few years, twenty, to be exact, since I stepped into my inflights and began a preflight for a "trip" bound for parts east: Europe or the Middle East. ("Trip" is in quotations, because any 80s flight crew member can tell you, that word was used in place of "flight", if ever the event that the cabin crew had to notify the cockpit crew that a hijacking was taking place: "Captain, can you give me an estimate of the remainder of our trip?")

I was based JFK Int'l. I flew flights to anywhere in TWA's Europe and the Middle East. Sometimes people ask:
Would you do it in this day and age? Yes.
Why would anyone want to have a "glorified waitress job"? Because I got to spend major amounts of time in Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Zurich, Lisbon, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Athens...

Oh, I would do it again!

Today I was asked if I was a flight attendant during the time of the Aloha Airlines Flight 243 fuselage tear. (A flight attendant was blown out of the plane.)

Yes, I was a flight attendant back then, and, no, even though it was a horrific scenario, I felt like it was as uncommon as being sucked up into a tornado. But after that question, I began reminiscing. Here are some bits of my look back into my high-flying experiences. (Note: I may have deleted a few of my fun fun experiences... it might have something to do with airline security and a hazy line over...hmmm...breaking a rule or two? If anyone is DYING to know, you can ask me personally.)

My answers to the email query:

Yes, I was a flight attendant during the time of the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am 103, the Achille Lauro highjacking, the TWA 847 highjacking, (I worked a few flights w/ Uli Dereckson, sort of a "hero" F/A from that flight, on subsequent flights.)

I have experienced missed approaches, emergency descents, one emergency landing. The missed approaches bothered me the most, because if one is expecting to land in a matter of 60 seconds, but suddenly the nose of the plane goes up...Well! It's not a good feeling.

I instigated the Spanish police being called on board for one passenger in Barcelona.

I escorted a kidnapped 5 yr. old from Athens, Greece, on her way back home to Houston.

I had the President of Iceland, David Letterman, Dana Carvey, Joe Cocker, James Brown, Al Jarreau, the rap singer w/ the big clock, Bing Crosby's daughter on some of my flights.

I once carried a disarmed grenade through Phoenix security at the request of the FAA.

I once broke all the glass panes of a rotating door at JFK Int'l.

I have sat in the engine of a 747.

I have played on the elevators of the L1011 inflight.

I have done the merengue down the aisles of a 747. With other F/As and passengers.

I once flew from the former Yugoslavia to JFK with a crack in my window. The flight crew would not let me change seats. So I buckled in as tightly as I possibly could.

I once was sitting in the loo during takeoff. That was creepy.

I went through Checkpoint Charlie (East Germany) just a couple of weeks before they tore the wall down in Berlin.

I am sure I have more recollections.
I haven't thought about that chapter of my life in quite some time...


xpda said...

Wasn't it pretty windy when you were riding on the elevators of the L1011?

xpda said...

And the 747 and L1011 pictures are backwards. Are you sure you were a flight attendant?

twebsterarmstrong said...

You are quite mistaken. The 747 (first photo) is the Hump jet. The 1011 (2nd photo) has the L-shaped tail engine.

twebsterarmstrong said...

As opposed to the DC-10, which had a straight tail engine.

Amy said...

I loved this post!

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