I’m a baby boomer, a child of the space-age. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier two years before I was born and I was six when the Russians launched Sputnik and the Space Race was on. To me, flying was as natural as walking or driving, if you had enough money to do so. My family wasn’t poor, but we weren’t rich either. We were part of President Eisenhower’s vast Middle Class, although I saw us as part of the lower half because my dad drove a truck, my mother worked in a factory (much to my embarrassment), and we lived in the city, not the suburbs. Oh, we had a TV, and Daddy bought a new car every two years. We lived in a house, not an apartment, and I was in Girl Scouts and choir and I got new clothes every spring and fall, and I heard the usual admonitions about children starving in China if I didn’t clean my plate. I got a transistor radio when I was ten and my own stereo when I was twelve, and every summer we visited my cousins in the country, so maybe we were upper middle class in terms of income.
I didn’t get to fly again until I graduated from high school. My graduation gift from my parents was a trip to Los Angeles to visit an aunt and uncle out there. I got to see the mountains and go to Disneyland, but I didn’t get to see the ocean. That was my first experience on a jet. I believe it was a Boeing 707. I had a few flights on those and 727s—a couple more vacations, and then my flights to and from Boot Camp and the Navy Hospital at Oakland, California. The difference is in the engines. A 707 had engines on the wings, while 727s had them on the tails.
Yes, I’ve even flown on helicopters. San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines made sixty-two passenger flights per day across the Bay between the two airports, using Sikorsky S-62 turbine helicopters. They even had flight attendants who would make sure each passenger’s seat belt was properly fastened. Once we were airborne, they would jump up, pass out mints, sit down, buckle up, and we would land. It was much easier to get to the San Francisco airport than taking busses. I had to really hang onto my wedding gown when I went home to get married. It got caught in the updraft and was headed for the rotors!