Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TAA the Friendly Way, A Flight Attendant's Story



 Flight Attendants in the 1950s with TAA the Friendly Way

Lately there has been alot of talk in Aussie blogging circles as to ethics of sponsored posts and getting 'paid' in cash or kind for dealing with brands.  The jury is still out and I choose not to espouse my opinions here, but this topic is my prediction for a hot debate in 2013 and one I think we should have in a civilised and respectful manner. But for today, I thought you might like to be reminded of a time when people did things for corporations gratis and thought nothing of it.  There was such innocence on both sides of the coin, or maybe just one side.

There will always be new industries and there will always be discussions about the way things should be done and that is a good thing.

I recently found this shot of Sydney Airport at my mum's, sitting in a pile of papers on her desk.  I asked her what it was about.  I thought I had already heard all her stories about her flying days but no, there was at least one she had forgotten about, until recently.

The promotional shot was already set up when she came in on a TAA flight to Sydney in about 1957.  The hosties, as they were fondly referred to in those days, were asked to participate in this ad for Avis Rent a Car, a fledgling company which was starting up at the time.  Mum believes the aircraft featured is a DC4.  She said that after the shot was taken, she walked off and never thought another thing about it, until it appeared in the Australian Newspaper about 3 years ago.  She phoned them up, told them she was 6th from the left and they kindly sent her a copy FOC, a rarity in the dog eat dog of media these days, but a very much appreciated gesture none the less. 

 I love my nearly 80 year old mum so very much and to know she had such a glamorous past makes me love her even more.  To have heard the stories of travel and romance and to know she then gave it all up to retreat to the suburbs, to be a wife and mother must have been difficult.  I wonder!!!!!!




Now 10 things you may not know about Flight attendants and the airlines in the 1940's, 50's and 60's and some interesting facts about my mum's flying experience in particular.

1. One of the main reasons TAA was begun in 1946, was to create jobs for returned pilots from WW2

2. Flight Attendants were not permitted to remove their caps during a flight, so they wore their hair rollers underneath to avoid serious 'hat hair' during a flight.  It was important they were ready to go to a party in whatever destination they found themselves that night.  Apparently there were loads of parties, but no hair dryers in those days.

3.  There were different sets of cutlery, glassware and china for aboriginal and other passengers. The indigenous people had blue plastic plates and cups.  Everyone else had white china or plastic depending on seating class.

4. You had to leave the airline once you got married, because TAA was considered the public service being government owed. In those days, women in the public service had to leave their employment to get married.

5. Sir Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister once got on my mum's flight and told her the aircraft was like "a sardine can.". She replied, "It is an airline owned by your government".

6.  My mum gained free entry to the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.  The guy on the gate said she was OK to go in, because she was in 'uniform'.  This was really only supposed to apply to emergency and armed services personnel. 

7.  TAA began flying to New Guinea in July 1960.  As my mum was a senior flight attendant at this time, she was chosen to make the inaugural flight.  They flew to many outposts delivering cargo, using runways constructed during the war.  As a gesture of good will, they invited the tribes people to walk through the aircraft.  My mum was standing up the back of the aircraft next to a ground staff engineer  as the locals walked through.  A native tribes woman, complete with bone through her nose, grass skirt and red mud smeared all over her chest, came along and vigorously felt up mum all over her body, boobs and all.  Remember it was 1960 and mum said she just about freaked and almost jumped out of the back door.  The engineer joked that the woman was measuring mum up for the pot.  Infact some time later, mum found out this act was part of a traditional welcome.

8.  My mum is a very bad flyer and hates it these days.  She says she knows too much of what goes on.

9.  On 10 June 1960 a TAA Fokker Friendship was on approach for a night landing at Mackay Airport Queensland Australia.  The aircraft crashed into the sea, killing all 29 passengers and crew on board, including 9 school boys returning home from a Rockhampton boarding school, for the Queen's birthday weekend holiday.

 One of the boys was celebrating his 9th birthday and instead of his parents driving down to pick him up, as a birthday treat, he was allowed to fly 'home'.

The crash remains Australia's worst peace time civil aviation disaster and the exact cause was never established conclusively.  It led to the introduction of flight recorders into Australian aircraft, which at the time were still under development.  Source   Accordingly, the aircraft Black Box is actually an Australian invention. Although my mum was not rostered to be on this particular flight, she was due to pick up this particular Fokker Friendship the following day for the inaugural flight to New Guinea. Interestingly, that first flight to New Guinea, would have had all the big wigs of TAA on it, as the flight was a reconnaissance flight to determine the itinerary and other logistics of flying there.  

10. Not long after this tragedy, mum was on a flight which hit a big air pocket.  She was in the aisle at the time and said the plane just fell away from underneath her.  She grabbed the luggage racks, which were open in those days, but when the plane hit air again, she crashed to the floor and badly hurt her knees.  She was also hit by flying hand luggage.  Her knees are still bad today, but workers' compensation was not even considered in those days.  They limped back to port with lots of injured passengers that day.  

After Mackay, the air pocket incident, and another in which a bird smashed the flight deck window and the captain was forced to land with his cap pulled hard over his face, due to the air rushing at high pressure into the cockpit..  And yet another incident with a fire in the radio, which meant they were flying in outback Australia without comms or radar and were basically lost.  The captain, as white as a sheet according to mum, put out the fire.   They then had to be navigate by way of  station names painted on the top of homesteads. 

 By now, mum had a feeling her flying days were numbered. She felt it was time to put her wings away.  She says she was ready to let it go by this stage, get married and head for the burbs.  That's were I come into the picture, but had mum been on an earlier leg of that Fokker Friendship's itinerary, I may not be here sharing all this.


For anyone in Melbourne who wants to know more, there is a Trans Australian Airlines museum now sponsored by Qantas, which purchased the airline in 1996.  The museum holds 130,000 aviation artefacts. It's located in
Qantas GT building
7 York Street 
Airport West
Victoria

Today I am linked up here

54 comments :

  1. What a wonderful, interesting post...I found it fascinating....your Mom must be full of stories about her flying days....thanks for sharing...

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  2. This was very interesting, thank you for sharing!

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  3. I'm from New Brunswick, Canada, but even I found this post interesting! Thanks!

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  4. what an amazing story, interesting history there. I remember the old TAA adds on telly.
    Bec x

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  5. I love hearing your Mother's story, what a wonderful history about flying, and a picture of her life back then. I can't wait to share this with my husband who loves to fly and is building his 6th airplane (RV 12) in his 'man cave', downstairs. I live in WA state, love the Northwest, but it is such a pleasure to read your blogs and learn a bit about Australia through your eyes. Thank you, Debbie

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  6. I just feel so sorry for the young boys who were on that flight and their families
    who would have suffered terribly. No wonder your Mum gave it away......
    Tania xx

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  7. What a great story, and brilliant facts. There is a lot of glamour associated with flying during the 40's and 50's, but I imagine it was also very tough on the employees. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. What a fascinating post! Your Mum sounds like she lived an interesting life before getting married!

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  9. What an interesting read this morning, thanks. Your mum was a glamorous hostie! I remember the TAA adds too. ;-)

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  10. I loved reading all this. What great stories!Thanks for sharing!AriadnefromGreece!

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  11. Great post, Caro. I love what your mother said to the Prime Minister - he deserved it! xx

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  12. Delighted to read this and to see these fantastic shots. And some of the stories and info made my mouth DROP OPEN. How different life is these days, and not all of it for the better. At all. My heart broke for the boys on the plane, for all the passengers.

    Love this blog post, interesting info and a welter of emotions all set off by the most glorious shots. Brilliant.

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  13. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. It's very interesting.

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  14. Your mum is so beautiful!!! Thank you for letting us visit with her this afternoon!!

    Pam

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  15. Like most - really enjoyed this post.

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  16. Your mother was lovely and I am sure she is today. Thanks for sharing this. Regena in TN.

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  17. What a fantastic story Carolyn. I can definitely see a resemblance of you in your Mum. Remember the days of smoking on a plane? Like a non smoking seat was going to keep you away from the smoke in the 'sardine can'! LOL My sister had applied to be a hostie but found love instead, marrying and having children. I wonder what her life would be like if she pursued the other. Great post Carolyn.

    Anne xx

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  18. That's an awesome story! What a n interesting life your mother left. Though your comment about how she doesn't like to fly now scares me. A little bit like people who worked at maccas and refuse to ever eat there again

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  19. My first wife Ruth was a TAA hostie in the 70s. Her favourite story was the little old lady who requested a window seat because she "liked some air on her face while she was travelling". Ruth often did the North Queensland outback run on a DC3 - the legendary "Goonybird".

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  20. You are so lucky to have these stories and these photos from your mum. It reminds me that I should be finding out more about my mum's early days for posterity too. Thanks for sharing such an interesting post Carolyn!

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  21. gorgeous old photos and an interesting story about your mum!
    x

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  22. What an interesting and factual piece of history and so great that you have it documented for generations to come. I can't believe some of the facts! I especially love the hair rollers bit!!
    Emily @ Have a laugh on me

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  23. What a fascinating story Carolyn...You must be proud of your mum for her bit in aviation history.You should do a coffee table book on this with photos how great for the the grandkids to read and remember their nana-love dee x

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  24. I love #6 - that is classic! Really enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing #teamIBOT

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  25. Had to laugh at number 5. And number 9 is terrible.. They don't teach you about that in local schools, it was just the big write up in 2010 that made me realise what had happened. Thank you for sharing!!

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  26. This was a lovely read Carolyn. What a beautiful intelligent woman your mum was! Would love to hear about some of these parties ;-). Love that they wore rollers under there hair... as you do hon. Happy 2013! Rach x

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  27. Thank you so much for sharing this - what a wonderful history your Mom has been able to share with you...and some really fabulous photos!!

    Kelly @ Babiole de Windsor

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  28. I love your Mum's story and thank you for sharing it. I listen to National Public Radio in the USA for my news because they not only give the news, but human interest stories like yours.

    Your mother was a cutie!

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  29. What a great post, loved reading it and what a great mum you have!

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  30. Great photo and such an interesting story! x

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  31. Oh my, amazing story. Such a joy to read about others adventures and lives. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, marty

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  32. What an amazing slice of history! Thanks for sharing it!

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  33. A great read. I enjoyed the stories. Blessings to your mom!
    Liz

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  34. This is such an interesting post. I love hearing such amazing stories, thanks :-)

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  35. My phone ate my comment :( so here goes again! Love this post - your mum sounds like a feisty woman - and what a great time (fashion wise) to have been in such a glamourous career. Being a bad flyer myself, point number 8 worries me greatly! Loved all the facts and stories. I know you have already linked this post to a number of blogs, but if you're interested, feel free to link to my Flashback Friday (launched today) - this post is perfect for it! xxx

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  36. What a great story Carolyn. There's a stolen TAA teaspoon in Mum and Dad's cutlery drawer! Your Mum sounds like a very interesting lady - please tell her that I really enjoyed reading her stories.

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  37. What a lovely story! I adore hearing family tales such as this fabulous one. x

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  38. Fabulous story, and wonderful photo of your Mother. So very glad you shared it with us!

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  39. My S-I-L is a flight attendant though grounded at the moment as she is expecting!

    My Mum was sacked from the public service also in 1964 for getting married. Then she got sacked from a large company when they found out she was pregnant with me in 1966 (she managed to hide her pregnancy until her 6th month though!). Thankfully things have changed!

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  40. What a fantastic story, and such a beautiful photo of your mother. Thanks for sharing x

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  41. This is a fantastic story! I love the very personal link to part of Australian history. Love the story about the hair curlers :)

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  42. What a beautiful story, and what a beautiful Mum! I love those old shots.
    xx

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  43. Terriffic stories!
    Two comments:
    1. Times haven't changed much, the guy at the Olympics would allow anyone in a uniform on for free, especially if the person in uniform was a hot chick!

    2. I have gotten into a lot of trouble with that traditional greeting and have since changed my ways.

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  44. What a fun story you shared about your Mum. I was a stewardess in the late 60s for UAL based out of San Francisco. Our flying days were also very different from today. It was the civil rights movement and SFO was smack in the middle. I got married and was also required to step down. That doesn't happen today. My first uniform was one of the last of the military styles was typical of all the airlines. My last uniform was very mod. We also served with real dishes and hotel silver in first class. Second class was plastic tv-dinner like trays. Most people were courteous as flying was not yet a common experience. Flying to day is like a cattle bus, everyone is jammed in along with their stuff. It was not my favorite job, but it was a very interesting time.

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  45. Great story! Points 3 and 4 are real signs of that particular time, aren't they?
    Love her comeback line to Sir Robert Menzies. Nice one, mum! :)

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  46. That was wonderful. You are so lucky to be able to hear your mothers stories - treasure every one of them. My mum is now suffering dementia and for someone who we could never stop talking it is a strange 'life' she now leads. Luckily she kept a record of everything in her life, so we have volumes and volumes to look back on.

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  47. I loved reading about your mother's experience, it was so interesting! Thank you for sharing. :)

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  48. This is the best post ever Carolyn!!! Absolutely loved everything about it. Gosh your Mum is gorgeous. xx

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  49. This has to be the most interesting and informative post I have ever read! Thanks for sharing a piece of your mums life and a piece of yours. Sometimes as grown daughters, we forget that our mothers had lives before the had us:) You must be so very proud of your mum~ Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

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  50. Ive been to Freemantle and Hobart in 2008. I love the story and love the people from down under. I live in Texas, USA.

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  51. what a great story and it is so fun hearing about your moms glamorous life,flying sure has changed a lot since then, it used to be such an exciting...it is so fun to go back to a time you can be so proud of..

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  52. What a beautiful post about your gorgeous own "flight attendante, you shared with us!" The photo with the cars and the girls is awesome and how she got it too! Big hugs,
    FABBY

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  53. Lovely storey and great memories of air travel in those days. The aircraft is a Vickers Viscount which was an advanced aircraft back then and the pride of the fleet.

    Thank you.

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