Come Fly The World
Author: Julia Cooke
Glamour, danger, liberation: in a Mad Men–era of commercial flight, Pan Am World Airways attracted the kind of young woman who wanted out, and wanted up Required to have a college education, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between 5′3" and 5′9", between 105 and 140 pounds, and under 26 years of age at the time of hire.
Cooke’s intimate storytelling weaves together the real-life stories of a memorable cast of characters, from small-town girl Lynne Totten, a science major who decided life in a lab was not for her, to Hazel Bowie, one of the relatively few Black stewardesses of the era, as they embraced the liberation of their new jet-set life. Cooke brings to light the story of Pan Am stewardesses’ role in the Vietnam War, as the airline added runs from Saigon to Hong Kong for planeloads of weary young soldiers straight from the battlefields, who were off for five days of R&R, and then flown back to war.
Finally, with Operation Babylift—the dramatic evacuation of 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon—the book’s special cast of stewardesses unites to play an extraordinary role on the world stage.
This is the story—at least in part—of what was happening in the metal tubes that flew over my house during the middle sixties to the middle seventies. I experienced the very end of this era with my first coast-to-coast flights in 1977. This was the government regulated time. Flying was more civilized and cultured—along with much much much more expensive. The book was, in part, the basis for the short lived TV series, "Pan Am".
The experiences flying into and out of Vietnam could be it's own book. Such a surprising and great find for me in that section of the book.