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Early Years

I'm switching the rest of the story to the Flexible Flyer banner.  I have always thought that would be a good title for my memoirs.  My ...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Pro and Cons

In order to become a part of Braniff Inc., our pilots all had to take a pay cut.  Braniff was flying 727s and we were flying smaller BAC 1-11s.  Most airline pay scales are weight based, the bigger the plane, the more the pilot pay.  We had been making more than the Braniff II pilots.

Braniff employees were very loyal to the company.  That was obvious immediately.  They all talked about the glory days, before their first bankruptcy.  They had 747s and Concordes in a system of both domestic and international flying.  They all referred frequently to the "Flying Colors" days of varied, but colorful paint jobs on their planes.














Under Braniff Inc.,  the colors were more standard and uniform.



The employees were friendly toward the former Florida Express employees, in my experience.  The pilots tried to get our pilots involved in the activities of the union, Airline Pilots Association (ALPA).  I became a member of the safety committee and the accident investigation committee.  I attended classes provided from ALPA national on accident investigation and met some legendary pilots.  I attended an annual ALPA safety forum in Washington DC.  The other members of the committees were very welcoming to me.

It was kind of fun to fly with some of the Braniff flight attendants.  We had been accustomed to mostly younger flight attendants, who had zero flying experience, but now we were literally flying with grannies.  No problem, just noticeably different.  One night, in the middle of a big goat rope involving major changes in our schedule, the first officer and I were in a huddle with our new flight attendants.  They both appeared to be significantly older than me.  The senior flight attendant addressed me as "Sweepea".  I laughed and said, "Captain Sweepea".  We all got a good chuckle from that one.  That was one of the things I liked about the flight attendants who could hang around for years.  They were all usually easy to get along with and had a good sense of humor.

Just to prove a point, I will tell you about a guy I used to fly with a lot, named Dennis.  He had been an undertaker and we called him "Digger".  When we were on a longer flight and one of the flight attendants came to the cockpit to check on us, I always told a joke about Digger.  He usually just smiled and shook his head when he knew it was coming.

I explained why we called him Digger and told about a day on which the funeral home had two men who were in the place for the first visitation at the same time.  The widows were there for a last minute check, when they noticed that Digger had gotten their suits on the wrong bodies.  They were very upset and Digger tried to calm them and told them he would make everything right.  He asked them to leave while he did his thing.  Time was short, but when the doors opened a few minutes later, the suits were on the correct corpses.  At this point, I would ask the FAs if they knew how he had done it.  They always said no.  I waited for the proper joke timing and said, "He swapped heads".


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