On This Day – August 19th, 1939

On This Day – August 19th, 1939
Franklin Delano Roosevelt establishes #NationalAviationDay

John Chvatal  of Gazing Skyward TV which honors and celebrates Aviation History, has suggested a collaboration to celebrate This Day in Aviation History.

Today also marks what would have been the 78th birthday of my Daddy, Raymond Edward Anderson. Following his service in the U.S. Army and a brief career in banking, “Andy” was a Ticket Agent/Supervisor with Eastern Airlines from the early 1960’s until the airline’s demise and liquidation in 1991. His friendship with a younger ramp worker for EAL, Winton Gary Goodin, who began his own work within the airline industry following his return from service in the U.S. Navy and Vietnam, sparked a meeting with Gary’s older sister, Clara (my mother). Young Gary, who was engaged to a lovely Delta Airlines Flight Attendant stationed out of Atlanta, was tragically killed in a car accident just weeks prior to the planned wedding at the young age of 24. Yesterday, August 18th would have been my Uncle Gary’s 70th birthday. Their friendship started a ripple of meetings and events that in large measure directed the course of my own young life and career.

I grew up with Uncles and Cousins who worked together and played together at JAX… Many of them had also worked at the old Imeson Field, which was replaced by a the newerJacksonville International Airport in September of 1968. As a child I was fascinated by JIA, and as a young woman, fresh out of college, I was determined to join the aviation family for myself.

I interviewed with an executive for Delta Airlines when I was 21, but at the time, did not receive a job offer. I interviewed again in 1984, and was hired in early 1985 after a round of 5 grueling interviews, by Trans World Airlines, TWA. My training was 8 intensive weeks of safety and in-flight instruction in Kansas City, MO., and upon completion I was flown to NYC, provided with hotel accommodations for one week, until I, along with fellow classmates could find an apartment and begin our lives as Flight Attendants living in Queens, taking the Q-10 to JFK to embark on our domestic flights.

I have plenty of personal, fun memories from my days with TWA, but one of the most well known, involved the return of the TWA Flight 847 hostages. On July 2, 1985, I received a phone call in the wee hours of the morning. Both my roommate David and I were on call… We were given instructions to report to our domicile, JFK, where we were then shuttled to LaGuardia, and then transferred to a bus. We were given no further information as we sat on a bumpy ride headed to Andrews Air Force Base. Our mission, once we arrived, was to take over for the International Crew which brought our hostages back home, and accompany the rest of them back to NY. As we boarded the plane to relieve our International Crew, wearing our own Red Carnations, then President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy were there to shake our hands and bid the long overdue flight a safe passage back home.

The red-and-white TWA L-1011 carrying the former hostages and their families touched down at nearby Andrews Air Force Base at 3:26 p.m., EDT. Cheering relatives and friends crowded near the tarmac, many carrying signs and flowers or furiously waving American flags.

To applause, each of the 30 hostages carefully walked down the red-carpeted stairs to step on American soil for the first time since their ordeal began at the Athens airport June 14.

TWA pilot John Testrake was the first hostage out. Others, wearing red carnations, hugged each other in happiness.

Reagan met with the hostages for six minutes privately on the plane from West Germany–just minutes after laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery at the grave of Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem–a solemn reminder that not everyone made it home.

Use the hashtag #NationalAviationDay and tell us how aviation has improved or changed your life.

Photo: Life Magazine Archives
Newstory excerpts: United Press International