by Susan J. Decuir
Growing up a mile north of Dallas Love Field Airport’s north runway in the 1950s was annoying when the planes flew directly over our house, causing interference on the TV screen and drowning out the sound while I watched my favorite shows.
Yet, every time Dad took my two brothers and me to stand at the runway fence to watch the planes take off, I couldn’t wait to fly.
Then, around 1957, Mom, my two brothers, and I flew from Dallas Love Field Airport to upstate New York to visit relatives. I remember Mom giving me a stick of her Doublemint gum to chew when my ears popped during the thrilling takeoff. My hazel eyes stayed fixed out the window—mesmerized as we flew into and then high above the clouds where the earth transformed into multicolored puzzle pieces.
Flying in the 1950s and 1960s is known as the "Golden Age" of flying. It was a time of glamorous air hostesses, gourmet meals, and leg room for all. And everyone dressed up to fly in those days.
I was fifteen during the October 1962 Cuban Missile crisis. We learned to duck and cover under our desk or in the hallway in school in the event of an actual attack. I ducked my head beneath the covers and prayed when the planes from Love Field Airport flew over the house at night.
In high school, my girlfriend’s dad took us on a short flight over Dallas in his private airplane. I never forget the joy I felt when he let me take the wheel for several minutes. I decided then that I would become an airline stewardess after high school. I couldn’t imagine anything more fun or exciting than flying, seeing the world, and getting paid to do so.
But I was too shy and went to business school instead. While working as the receptionist/bookkeeper for a small loan office, a friend told me that she heard Braniff Airlines was hiring and employees earned free flying passes. My ears perked up and soon I was on my way to the Braniff Corporate Building in Exchange Park at Harry Hines and Mockingbird Lane. I filled out an application and waited. Shortly, the receptionist said, “I am sorry, Susan, but the only job available right now is for the file room.”
“I’ll take it!” I would have taken any job. My eyes were on those free flying passes.
I loved working for Braniff. The people were friendly, loved their jobs, and loved sharing stories about their many travels. Though working with the other young girls in the file department was fun, I later bid on an opening in the billing department and landed the job,
When I received my one-year Braniff pin, I earned my first free pass. Yay! It went toward a whirlwind weekend trip to New York City. Though I rode the subway, saw the Statue of Liberty, and took a bus tour, taking a helicopter flight from the top of the Pan American Building in midtown Manhattan to JFK Airport for the flight home was the ultimate.
It was exciting flying over the pyramids of Mexico City on the way to Acapulco where I watched the famous daredevil cliff divers from La Perla Restaurant when the popular Wide World of Sports TV show was there filming the divers.
My final free flight before leaving Braniff was to beautiful Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas where I got my worse sunburn ever.
More fun than any amusement ride was when, in my late twenties, a friend took me up in his citabria—Airbatic spelled backwards. He performed every loop, spin and trick that amazing little plane could do. I didn’t tell Mom until years later.
In the 80s, my husband, Ron, our young daughter, and I visited the Wycliff Bible Translators on Camp Wisdom Road. For a donation, we took a 30-minute flight on a DC3 outfitted for missions’ trips in the jungle. Sarah’s first flight. Did you know those old planes didn’t have air-conditioning?
In our retirement years, my husband and I have flown to Niagara Falls, Maui, Mount Rushmore, and many fun places in-between. I will always love flying. Happy flying ya’ll.