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My Turn: First flight led to a kiss

Bill Kempner in 1968. His first airplane experience

Bill Kempner in 1968. His first airplane experience was memorable for more than just the flight to Spokane. Credit: Handout

The Act 2 Column last week by Fred Bruning ("Flights once had allure -- but it's gone the way of legroom") prompted readers to write about their airline experiences, past and present.


In the summer of 1969, I was fortunate enough to go to the Boy Scout National Jamboree in Idaho. (I was not quite 15 years old, though I had decided that pretty girls were OK!) Our contingent from Nassau County flew out to Spokane, Wash., on a chartered American Airlines 707 aircraft.

The captain was an older, experienced pilot who shared with us, over the intercom, the fact that his older brother had attended the 1929 World Jamboree at Arrowe Park in England. We were all impressed.

The flight attendants were hand-picked (obviously for their sense of humor and good nature in dealing with teenage boys). They were all attractive as well, which certainly appealed to all of us. I was the senior Senior Patrol Leader for the three troops, so I was dealing with the lead flight attendant, a stunning looking young lady whose name I still remember, regarding movies, times to eat, sleep, etc. during the six-hour flight. I was taken with her the moment I saw her, and I guess she liked me, too.

When we landed at Spokane, and we deplaned by stairs, the crew all lined up at the bottom of the stair ladder to say goodbye and wish us well. I was a Life Scout (soon to be Eagle), and when I came up to Jane, I gave her my Life Scout pin -- a heart with the Scout emblem on it. And she kissed me! Whew! My heart beats fast even now just thinking about it! Pretty heady stuff for a 14-year-old kid! It couldn't get any better than that! Have done lots of commercial flying since then, with lots of wonderful flight attendants and crews, but nobody ever topped my beautiful Jane, who I gave my "heart" to.

--Bill Kempner, Roslyn Heights


Working for a flying bus line is crummy

As a 34-year veteran of the business, I must say that [Fred Bruning's] description of the misery that has become the aviation industry was right on the money.

What was once an industry filled with allure and sophistication is now nothing more than a ride on a Greyhound bus at 35,000 feet. Growing up in Queens, I vividly remember that anyone who worked for Pan Am, Eastern, TWA or any other big airline was treated with almost celebrity-like status.

Now, the mere mention to anyone that you work for an airline draws a response as though, perhaps, you've lost a loved one. Those of us who are left seem to exist in a shadow world, always wondering if the end is just around the corner.

I laugh to myself as, occasionally, young bright-eyed individuals will show up at my office looking for employment. I know their heart is in the right place, but my response is usually "Turn around and run for your life!" That's how bad it's become.

What was once a career filled with pride and expectations is now merely a "job." We all look to come out alive (hopefully with our pensions intact), and move on to the next phase of our lives. A "grim" business, as [Bruning] says, and getting grimmer by the day.

Thanks for reminding folks that it was once a respectable way to earn a living.

--Michael Baard, Merrick


They touched my junk

Just enjoyed reading Fred Bruning's article.

And, yes, the "class" has gone from air travel. On my most recent trip, I was detained by the Transportation Security Administration for "an anomaly in the groin."

This was "announced" to me within earshot of other passengers as I was being escorted to a "private" screening area.

The humiliation continued from there.

In short, Bruning's article hit the nail on the head, especially for those of us who remember when flights had, to use the headline word, "allure."

--Paul Iasevoli, Farmingdale



Luggage was a loser on wheel of fortune

I flew Delta from JFK airport to San Juan on April 15 for a one-week cruise. They charge $25 each way for my suitcase. Upon arrival, I noticed the two wheels I had departed with were down to one. The luggage office there took the report but said this had to be handled upon my return to JFK. The cruise terminal had a processing problem which required dragging the luggage for nearly two hours outside the building in the hot sun. When I returned to Delta JFK on April 22, their luggage professionals stated this should have been handled in Puerto Rico and not JFK. In addition, they do not cover wheels!

--Richard Salembier, Massapequa Park

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