The words of a 1980s pilot

(CNN) – “I’m old enough to be the jet age,” said Ann Hood, an American novelist and best -selling author of the New York Times, whose latest book “Fly Girl” is a memoir for his competitive years as a TWA pilot. right at the end of the Golden Age of air travel.

As a child, growing up in Virginia, he witnessed the first flight of the Boeing 707 – which marked the beginning of the era of aviation – and watched the construction of Dulles Airport. .

At the age of 11, after returning to his native Rhode Island with his family, he read a 1964 book called “How to Become an Pilot,” and made up his mind.

“Being a sexist like Hell, he tempted me because he talked about a job that allows you to see the world and I think, maybe that’s the job.”

After graduating from college in 1978, Hood began sending job applications to airplanes. “I think 1978 was a very exciting year, because there were a lot of women I went to college with one foot to old ideas and stereotypes, and the other foot to the future.

“Flight attendant” is a newly coined term, an independent male adjective from “hostesses” and “stewardesses,” and the deregulation of the airline industry is just around the corner, ready to shake things up.

But for the most part, it’s more beautiful and easier to fly and the pilots are “beautiful and beautiful,” as Hood said, as they fight for the feminism and discrimination.

The stereotype of stewardesses in miniskirts flirting with male hostesses, popularized by books such as “Coffee, tea, and me? The uninhibited memoir of two airline stewardesses”- published as factual in 1967 , but later revealed to have been written by Donald Bain. , a PR director of American Airlines.

Weight limits

Some of the most pressing requirements to be hired as a flight attendant – such as advancing age and losing a job if married or having children – have been eliminated, but others remain.

What is even more shocking is that women are taking care of the stress they experience during labor.

“Every airline has sent you a chart with your request, you’ve looked at your height and weight and if you haven’t fallen into it, they won’t interview you,” Hood said. “But once you’re hired, at least at TWA, you can’t climb that high weight.

“My roommate was evicted over this. The most horrible thing about her, other than what happened to women, was that this limit wasn’t lifted until the 1990s.”

Hood was one of 560 pilots, out of 14,000 applicants, hired in 1978 by TWA, then a major carrier, acquired by American Airlines in 2001.

The work began with a few days of intensive training in Kansas City, where cadet pilots will learn everything from aircraft name names to medical procedures, and aircraft safety regulations. seven. The list includes the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747.

“It’s awful, because it’s so big – and the stairs, the spiral staircases that lead to the first floor that you have to go up and down not often,” Hood said. “I always thought: don’t travel. After that I got used to it.”

Kālai chateaubriand

Hood’s favorite aircraft is a Lockheed L-1-11 TriStar.

Hood’s favorite aircraft is a Lockheed L-1-11 TriStar.

Christopher Deahr / Editorial Moment / Flickr Vision / Getty Images

He said his favorite aircraft to make would be the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. “On the ground, only Eastern Airlines and TWA flew. It was a spacious plane that could be attached with a nice arrangement of two seats on each side and then four seats in between, so it could everything goes smoothly. No one is happy on that plane. “

It was beautiful flying then, he said.

“People dress to fly and remember the food in a good way. It’s very different from today. I can compare it to living in a nice hotel, or on a cruise ship. ship. “said Hood, who recalled donating his Ralph Lauren -designed dress and carving a chateaubriand that was cooked to taste for first -class passengers, who also received Russian caviar and red bisque to go with their Dom Perignon.

It’s not a rose bed. Smoking was widespread on board the ship, and for the pilots it was a dream.

“If you’re going on a five -day trip, it’s not uncommon, you have to pack a separate whole suit because you’re just going to smell like smoke,” Hood said. “Boy, I was happy when that happened. The first few rows of each piece were supposed to be non -smokable, but the whole plane was full of smoke so you couldn’t avoid it.” when you go back, you laugh. “

How about the Mile High Club? “It’s not uncommon on international planes to see a person walk into the bathroom and a minute after his or her roommate joins him or her, or something like that,” Hood said. . “Not everyone can fly, but you know.

“Earth planes aren’t as full as they are now, so in those middle sections of the five seats on a 747 you can see a man with his hands up, carrying a shield. and disappears down. I can’t say what they do. It’s working, but it’s doubtful. “

Passengers melting in or asking for flight attendants, which is common. “I was involved with motorists, but most of it was a disaster. That’s not what I thought. But in 1982, I met a man on a plane from San Francisco to New York. He lived there. he’s at 47F – and I’ve been with him for five years. “

It’s an motivational activity

Hood left the job in 1986 to pursue a career in writing.

Hood left the job in 1986 to pursue a career in writing.

Ann Hood

Hood saw his fair share of wonders on the ship. “The other thing was the woman in the first floor who was seen feeding her cat.

“Then the man flew all the way with his white clothes and his coat and belt, because he didn’t want to scratch his throat for a job interview. Down the road, “he explained.

That said, routine starts at some point, not every flight is a miracle of journey and beauty.

“I’d say it’s 80% fun and it’s 20% fun. On some planes, there’s a lot more that isn’t filled, there’s a lot of time to fill up. You can serve people in a lot of ways. food and drinks.and played a lot of movies.I enjoyed the work.I liked to talk to people.I liked the idea of ​​it.I love flying today , “said Hood.

He said he could really visit and see the cities he visited. “Sometimes your ilover is really short or you’re just tired, but for the most part, the city is out the door. I’ve used that a lot to fly all over the world.”

He left work to pursue his writing career in 1986, and then things changed. Deregulation, which moved federal power over everything from fares to highways, has been fully implemented, constantly changing the pace.

The planes were filled with more seats and the coaches stopped the fun, but the flight was sped up and catered to the best part of the crowd.

Hood said he was proud of his career in the air.

“The pilots are strong. They’re very organized. They’re independent. In the garage, they make all the decisions. They have to make adjustments. They don’t know anything or anyone and get in their way.

“It was an motivational act, but it was a sexist act. In itself, it was as counterproductive today as when I started,” he said.

However, he encouraged her as a career choice.

“I was 21 when I was hired, and it gave me confidence, gave me poise, and the ability to think on my feet,” he said. “Take that plane, and when I leave, go into the city and think a lot about home – or think about the feeling of home inside.

“I don’t know if that’s what anyone’s life is all about – if they want it, fine.

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