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» Smilin' Jack   » Specific Airline Discussions   » TWA   » Happy times, sad times.

   
Author Topic: Happy times, sad times.
Conch Flyer
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Member # 1414

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http://www.photoshow.net/scripts_main/build/player.php?show=WSGzGPLwd

I wanted everyone to see this. Buckle up and get ready for a blast down memory lane.

Posts: 156 | From: Kansas City,MO  |  IP: Logged
agriebel
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A nice walk down the lane of happier times. Thanks for sharing!
Posts: 7 | From: Madison WI  |  IP: Logged
Jeff I.
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Conch Flyer -

This is fantastic. I urge all of our fellow posters to set aside some time, sit back with a cup of coffee (or, if later in the day, a JW Black on the rocks) and enjoy the wonderful montage of TWA scenery brought to us by Conch Flyer.

In watching the slides, I just kept thinking, "Dignity, Pride and Passion," .... which are among the many superlatives that could be given to the people who made TWA great.

And as one who comes at this from the customer side, I couldn't help but reminiscing about how I always approached my TWA flights with a sense of anticipation and looking forward to a special and unique experience.

Thanks again, Conch Flyer. This is really great and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Jeff I.

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Bob Ritchie
Post Captain
Member # 1035

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Thanks Conch,

No whiskey or coffee; but with a bottle of Perrier and a MonteCristo cigar. Very enjoyable.

TWA was once an incredible airline. As a youth growing up in Indiana there was only one airline. TWA. My brother-in-law came home on leave from the Army in 1958. He flew TWA from Paris to New York and on to Indianapolis. Despite being only 10 years old at the time, I still remember him coming down the stairs of that beautiful Connie. Last summer he gave me his boarding pass, ticket voucher, baggage claim, route map and all the paperwork from that very flight. It is in perfect condition; having been stored for nearly 50 years, in a cedar chest.

A decade later I was learning to fly and working my way though college, fueling airplanes at the Terre Haute, Indiana airport. Twice each day a tired looking, old, Connie, flying the Ohio Valley routes, from Kansas City to St. Louis: Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Columbus and Pittsburg would lumber up to the gate. I would stand in awe as she coughed and sputtered to life; smoke belching as each piston fired. I can still hear the screeching of the brakes when she taxied in and out.... visualize how she levitated from the earth and banked slowly toward Indy or St. Louis. I was present at the Terre Haute airport, that spring day in 1967, when the last TWA Connie departed Hulman Field.

In 1968 or early 69 we heard that TWA was going to be flying one of their new B-747's into Indianapolis during a P.R., proving run. My buddy and I rented a C-150 and flew to Indy just to view the gigantic airship. I will never forget standing on the ramp and the overwhelming feeling of watching that majestic, monster approach and land at Indy. I swear her wingtips streached from horizon to horizon! Again...TWA.

As I continued learning to fly, during the late 60's; young TWA pilots from Terre Haute would occassionally return and regale us with glorious tales of being a TWA pilot. One of the first people I met upon taking a flying job in Owensboro, Ky. was Joe Harris, a TWA pilot. Wow was I impressed. Joe was young, driving a new Lincoln Continental, living in one of the most exclusive subdivisions and flying "round the world" as a TWA 707 pilot. TWA and their pilots were truly the pinacle of aviation. Boy....would I love to be a TWA pilot!!

TWA began a deep slump in the early 70's and the big airlines didn't hire pilots for several years. It was my good fortune to be offered one of the very few opportunities in 1972, becoming an OZA airlines pilot.

The very first day of flight training at OZA once again left me with a powerful impression of TWA. We were on lunch break, standing outside of our classroom, which was located just off of the departure end of runway 30-L at St. Louis. A TWA B-747 began it's take off roll, coming directly toward us. It was the first 747 departure that I had ever observed. My strongest impression was the grinding/humming sound made by is huge, hi- bypass engines, uncommon in that era. Then the strong sense of personal impotence as she rose gracefully overhead.

Having stood in awe of TWA as a youth and young airman; I was equally confused and saddened as she began her slow demise. Many pilot conversations concerned..."what is wrong with TWA?" As my own career at OZA prospered; TWA downsized and furloughed pilots with many years seniority. It was sad....but for professional reasons, I was now glad not to be a TWA pilot. Little did I know that my own future would one day be so entwined.

After TWA bought OZA, 16 years of my career was spent wearing the proud wings of a TWA pilot. Many times while flying a TWA airliner across the midwest;I would look down on Indy and Terre Haute. Memories of a country boy, fueling airplanes,attending college, and dreaming of being a TWA pilot,would fill my thoughts.

Though my heart will always remain "Green"; I came to identify with TWA and pray for her success. The last 5 or 6 years at TWA were very enjoyable...the people, my friends, our airline. It was a sad day when she died. If you see a silver Z-3 with a licence plate...OZA-TWA...just wave. That's me it's my legacy. Grateful to AA but don't feel a need to add AMR.

TWA.... her history, her glory, her memory; the great airman, who made her what she once was....will forever be a benchmark of aviation history. No one can take that away!

Thanks again,

Bob R.

[ 01-15-2005, 13:02: Message edited by: Bob Ritchie ]

Posts: 1936 | From: Warren County, Missouri  |  IP: Logged
ss278
Post Captain
Member # 244

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I too always longed to be a TWA pilot, but it was never in the cards. Oh, I got my wings all right, even flew King Airs to some exotic places and by the time I lost my medical I had about 4500hrs. But I was a passenger from 1958 (when I was eight) through the end, and I'll never forget them.

Just curious, of the very few TWA pilots who are still flying for AA, are you still relegated to STL or can you fly from any base and on any equipment your integrated seniority allows you to hold?

I wish the best to you all.

jm

Posts: 199 | From: Salt Lake City, Utah USA  |  IP: Logged
Bob Ritchie
Post Captain
Member # 1035

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JM,

If the former TWA pilots wish to keep their protected status....then we must remain within the STL domicile. This assures us that we bid only among former TWA pilots within our protected domicile. The number 1 remaining former TWA captain for example....bids #1 B-767 captain within STL and so on down the seniority list. There is great motivation to remain in STL. I for example,will retire #6 on the TWA list. About #4,300 on the combined AA list!!

It's real complicated but we have our own little group here and AA provides Super 80 and 767/757 flying,at the STL domicile, equal to a ratio of 30% of the average DFW and ORD narrow body and small widebody flying.

All of the STL captain seats are reserved for former TWA pilots. We are limited to flying only the MD-80 and the 767/757.

Once we depart on our scheduled trips from STL we fly the entire AA domestic system. There are quite a few transcons: and many Florida to California nonstops as well as shorter trips through DFW,ORD,LGA,MIA,LAS etc. Our domestic flying is indistingishable from our fellow AA pilots with whom we interact. As we pass though various AA cities we swap airplanes with career AA pilots seamlessly. Of course all of the flight attendants are career AA.

The only "international" flying done by former TWA pilots is to Honolulu, San Juan and a couple trips to Mexican destinations from time to time. The TWA pilots deadhead into and out of STL to fly these trip from the DFW or ORD domiciles.

Most of the first officers in STL are career AA. There are a few(60/70) former TWA captains flying as copilot in STL, mostly on the 767/757. Unfortunately the majority of them are facing furlough. The bloodbath seems never to end.

There have been 3 or 4 former TWA captains, now f/o's, who have chosen to leave STL and accept their AA system seniority.


Take care,

Bob Ritchie

[ 01-17-2005, 09:41: Message edited by: Bob Ritchie ]

Posts: 1936 | From: Warren County, Missouri  |  IP: Logged
Robert Dedman
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Thanks for the wonderful slide show. I am ordering my DVD so I can preserve the memories. Like all, I loved TWA, it was my sixth airline and one to which that I owe everything. Having bounced around like I did, it was like dying and going to heaven when I finally got accepted by TWA. I was lucky enough to become a training Captain early on and managed to get to the "wonderful 747". I too agree with Capt. Richie, TWA had the most dedicated and fine airmen that I have ever met. There will never be another TWA. Those wonderful years we saw will not happen again. The world has changed so much and so has aviation. We were in the golden years and I am very thankful. Regards, Bob
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ss278
Post Captain
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Thanks for the reply, Bob. It cleared up some misconceptions I had. I feel quite badly regarding what happened to you all, and to the FA's as well, but its nice to see that a few of you can still get to HNL in February.

Please, the above is not flame bait to open up old wounds, I'm merely expressing my own opinion.

jm

Posts: 199 | From: Salt Lake City, Utah USA  |  IP: Logged
Phil Shadle
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Great photos. . .a treat to view.

I flew for American 33 years. When deregulation took hold, I assumed that TWA would be a "growth leader" because they had an unbeatable domestic and international mix. I still cannot understand how this was not a major factor. . .not just for survivial, but, for real expansion. I probably never will. . .

Another note. . .while I did not fly for your great airline, I did manage to get a DC-3 check/rating ride from one of what I believe you called the "5 P's," in my case, Ernie Pretch(spelling?) He had an airport operation in Florida. I was furloughed at the time (1970) and had NO idea who he was. Walking into his trailer, I saw all the TWA photos, and even a few describing his flights into Berlin during the airlift.

All that. . .a LONG time ago. . .but, still "fun."

Regards, Phil Shadle [Wink]

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CPRIC
Post Captain
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I cannot open the page to view the slide show. Can someone please tell me if I need something. I have cable modem. What else do I need?

Thanks

Posts: 32 | From: Torrance, Ca  |  IP: Logged
don draper
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for Bob Ritchie - >>> As a youth growing up in Indiana there was only one airline. TWA. A decade later I was learning to fly and.... fueling airplanes at the Terre Haute airport. Twice each day a tired looking, old Connie, flying the Ohio Valley routes from Kansas City to St. Louis, Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Columbus and Pittsburg would lumber up to the gate. I would stand in awe as she coughed and sputtered to life; smoke belching as each piston fired. I can still hear the screeching of the brakes when she taxied in and out... visualize how she levitated from the earth and banked slowly toward Indy or St. Louis. As I continued learning to fly, during the late 60's; young TWA pilots from Terre Haute would occassionally return and regale us with glorious tales of being a TWA pilot. <<<

I'm a little ashamed of myself, Bob; I was the co-pilot on some of those Connies and I was too intent on chatting up the girls in the ramp office - we had only two on the a/c, one for the Capt and one for the F/E - to go out and meet the ramp guys like you, who were airport kids just as I had been years earlier. Contrast that with Roscoe Turner, whom I'm sure you met. Roscoe was a true and legendary hero. He was the barnstormer and air racer - the only one ever to win the Thompson Trophy three times - who had traveled around in an open cockpit with a lion cub, promoting Gilmore Oil. He owned the FBO at IND and would, as I discovered on my first trip there, walk across the ramp when the Connie landed, introduce himself to the pilots as we came down the steps and talk about flying. He was pushing 70 then but was bigger than life with a full head of hair and that fabulous waxed mustache. He tried to sell me - a Connie copilot - the first Lear Jet I ever saw! =8o)
The afternoon westbound flight thru Terre Haute was Flt399 which originated in BOS at dawn and stopped at Albany, Binghamton, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport before it got to Pittsburgh, CMH etc. We averaged one landing per flying hour,... not counting bounces. It was wonderful fun for a guy like me, who had spent most of the previous decade spraying cranberries and had never flown anything bigger than a Bonanza.
Happy Landings to you; dedstik

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Bob Ritchie
Post Captain
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Thanks Don,

Wish you would have stepped off of that Connie; I would have been thrilled to have met you.

Yes...I met Roscoe Turner in Indy once as a youngster. He was quite a character, although I knew him only from his history. I remember his FBO in Indy. Wasn't it called Roscoe Turner Aviation? Any how when I was a youngster I can remember going into the FBO where his pet lion, I think it's name was Gilmore, was now dead; but properly stuffed and on display.

Roscoe Turner started an airline in Indianapolis which became Lake Central Airlines. Lake Central merged with Allegheny in 1967 or so. Of course Allegheny grew up to be USAirways.

About the time that you were flying those Connies through Terre Haute, Lake Central Airlines was operating CV-580's and Nord 262's through HUF. I remember that there was a problem with the Nord early on and LCA dragged out their mothballed DC-3's to fill the gap for a while.

Captain Bill Hicks was a mentor of mine and one of the earliest Lake Central Airline pilots. Bill started when Roscoe Turner ran the place and eventually retired as #50 on the USAirways seniority list.

Great hearing about your Connie Tales.(tails?!?) Any stories you can tell would add much to this thread.

Bob Ritchie [Smile]

Posts: 1936 | From: Warren County, Missouri  |  IP: Logged
Goodyear_26
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I think I have a few imputs to this thread.
To begin with I am completely satisfied that we are and have always been a TWA Family.
The post from Don Draper is what triggered this response!

I have known Don for about 30 years I guess. We were never close and yet in the TWA family our lives intertwined!

I never knew about his flying the Ohio valley routes. PIT-DAY-CVG-SDF-HUF-STL and I may have been around before his time, but as a Ground Radio Operator I worked these flights all the time. First when I was at SDF and later at IND

The other Flight Crew member who entered my life was Ray Leno. He was a SFO First Officer (now deceased) who taught me how to fly at Half Moon Bay Airport, CA.

Without going into great detail (which I'd be glad to do !!!!) there is so much that has gone into the making of the TWA family!

In passing I should mention another Don Draper-ism. I was going to get married to my third intended and Don set up the arrangements for us at Zephry Cove, NV. The pavement was icy and Don and I held onto Gina on each side. The JP took one look at the picture and asked her "Are you doing this under duress?"!

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don draper
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What a treat to hear from Frank Griffiths (Goodyear 26), it's been a long time. Frank became my Crew Skd Den Mother when I transferred from BOS to SFO as a 707 F/O in April,'66. He was thrilled to pass me off to Dick Drake when I started flying Capt. two years later and let some one else try to locate me for awhile. He may even have been the one who answered the pay phone out in the hall when Dick was trying to call me for a flight. =;o)

Frank and I were actually pretty close,... he just doesn't want anyone to know. When he married the spectacularly beautiful Gina on that icy evening at Lake Tahoe, I secretly hoped he'd slip on the ice and lose his grip on her. By the time he could have gotten up, I'd have absconded with her to parts unknown! =80)

I'm saddened to learn that Ray Leno passed away, a wonderful companion! Did he teach you to fly in Danny Burke's rickety old J-3 Cub?... the same one in which I taught one of my wives to fly??

Wishing you and the lovely Gina a wonderful 2005

dedstik

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exTWALAX
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Thank you, Conch Flyer. What a trip. I must admit that there was a tear in my eye about half way through. I was part of the acceptance team on the CV880 with Jack Southard and Bill Byard. Also on the L1011 at Lockheed. I only got to ride on the Connie once, but it has been one of my favorite planes (in addition to the P-38) since I was a kid.

Great Show!

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