There is nothing that thrills me more than when I meet a kindred spirit. Someone who shares the excitement and passion that I do for private aviation. Trent is one of those men and I would love to share the story he so thoughtfully emailed to me one morning about his experience and joy as a Flight Attendant for the US military.
Below is the email I excitedly read from him early one morning while in Tokyo, Japan on a work trip. Right away I resonated with his story and just how truly lucky we are to have and to have had the life of a Flight Attendant in Private Aviation. Thank you, Trent, so much for sharing. I know others will enjoy reading your story as much as I did!
I truly enjoy reading your stories and posts on LinkedIn. Today I read about how getting into aviation is hard work.
I feel like I need to tell you my story because, some of us don’t realize how great we have it until it’s over.
A long time ago I was a young Navy man stationed on the island of Guam. I was an aircraft mechanic fresh out of school, far from home and scared to death.
Imagine being 17 years old, living 6000 miles from Texas, on an island that I was sure had native cannibals on it. The only thing I knew about islands was what I had watched on the Gilligan’s Island TV show reruns. (I know you are young, Google it).
A tragedy in the form of a plane ditching into the Pacific near Saipan took all of the station pilots except one, he was a great pilot but did not know how to start the motors. I was called to the head office and asked “Sailor, you know how to start that damn plane? “ I said "Yes sir, I sure do." His response, "congratulations you are now the U.S Navy’s newest Air crewman."
I was to report to the flight line to start my training, and the plane, A Douglass DC-3. I was getting a chance that not very many sailors ever get. I had a new flight suit and I was ready to conquer the world.
From there I became a flight engineer on The Douglas DC-6, a search and rescue swimmer in helicopters crashed in the ocean in the back of 3 separate SH-3 helicopters, served as a crew chief and swimmer on a Helicopter Aircraft Carrier with UH-1N helicopters.
I’ve been to a few conflicts, I have a chest full of medals, I have been in and got out of more trouble than most convicts, and I have seen the world.
But, the absolute most fun I have ever had were the years that I was a Flight Attendant on the Navy’s Transport DC-9 aircraft.
The great people we carried, the gallons of coffee I have served, the stories we listened to, the look on people’s faces when we landed with medical folks and food during disasters, the hugs from the college girls when we rescued them from Granada, the trips to Cuba, and ……well I could go on and on, but it was a REALLY great time.
We flew 18 hour days, made very little money ($400 a month), had to eat more spam box lunches than you can count and spent a lot of time in the Motel 1, ( that’s 5 steps below the motel 6).
In those some 35000 flight hours it never seemed like work. It was just what I loved to do. Friends, memories, fun, great food and the experience of truly living is what it is all about.
I see you posting from places that I have been, hear how eloquently you speak of the job, watch the pride you have when another class completes training and stress how hard it is to get to the right place. Without sounding condescending, I am proud of you.
I was thrust into the world you speak of and as I read the story today, I am so thankful that I was. I would have never even thought about a career as a flight attendant back then. Hard work? Yes.
Worth every second? Without a doubt, and I would do it all again tomorrow given the chance.
Keep doing what you do.
Thanks for listening,