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Love Story: Romance took flight aboard cargo plane

Paul and Susan Rebscher of Moriches, seen in

Paul and Susan Rebscher of Moriches, seen in August 2019 in Pierre, South Dakota, celebrated 32 years of marriage at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport. Credit: Rebscher Family

Paul Rebscher of Moriches recalls meeting his future wife, Susan.

Back in 1985, I worked for Flying Tiger Line, a cargo airline, for which I flew a B-747 cargo plane. We would depart Kennedy Airport at midnight and head to Chicago, then on to Anchorage, Alaska.

After reaching cruising altitude one evening on a flight I was co-piloting, I went back to the galley for coffee and met two flight attendants. They said they were deadheading (catching a free ride to a destination during time off) to Seoul, South Korea, to shop. I invited them to the cockpit for a spectacular nighttime view of our country from 35,000 feet. They said yes, joined us and after conversation and taking in the views, they retired to the bunk area to sleep.

We arrived in Chicago on time, and within an hour cargo was offloaded and new cargo loaded, and we were on our way to Anchorage, a six-hour flight away. When we landed at 6 a.m. time, we went to a hotel for some rest. I didn’t see the flight attendants but was told one of them was bumped and had to wait for the next flight.

I awoke around noon and called the airline to find out which flight attendant had been bumped and was, therefore, still in Anchorage. I was told it was Miss Susan Hart, the one I was hoping it would be, and that she was still at the hotel with the rest of the crew. I called the front desk, and they put me through to her room. I asked Susan if she would like to join me for brunch, and she said yes.

We met an hour later at La Mex, a Mexican restaurant across the street famous for its “grande margarita.” We each ordered one and proceeded to share our life stories with each other. I am a Chicago native, and Susan was born and raised in Northport, so our stories were new and interesting to each other. We talked all afternoon, until 5 p.m. when I said goodbye and headed back to the hotel to rest up for my flight the next morning to Japan.

After that trip, whenever I had a Kennedy departure, I would call Susan and ask her to lunch or dinner before my flight. We eventually started dating and began a two-year long-distance relationship. On Valentine’s Day 1987, I put a velvet box with an engagement ring in it inside a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates while we were both in Los Angeles, asking Susan to marry me. She said yes and told me it was all very romantic. We were married in September of 1987 at The Abiding Presence Lutheran Church in Fort Salonga. We had our reception at Cow Harbor Inn.

In 1989, Federal Express (now known as FedEx) bought the Flying Tiger line. Susan continued working until 1992, when Federal Express ended the Flying Tiger passenger business. I flew cargo until retiring in 1995.

In 1988, we bought a condo in Moriches, where we still live today. We are both avid skiers and have wintered in Utah for many years. We’re enjoying a busy and active retirement. We volunteered at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Susan was in meet-and-greet, and I was on the slopes grooming the men’s and ladies' downhill racecourses. We still enjoy skiing today as well as playing golf.

We celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary by spending a night at the TWA Hotel at Kennedy Airport and enjoying cocktails on the Constellation, an actual Lockheed four-engine propeller plane parked in front of the hotel.

— With Ann Donahue-Smukler

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Access the online form at newsday.com/lilovestory — or send an anecdote along with your phone number and a photo to Love Story, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747; or email ann.smukler@newsday.com, or call Ann Donahue-Smukler at 631-843- 2520. Publication is not guaranteed. Photos cannot be returned and may be used in other publications affiliated with Newsday.

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