Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My First Flight – PAA, LAX-HNL

It's just days now before Marijke takes off in her "Loki" and experiences her first Powder Puff Derby race. This event, along with my son emailing me a picture of some Pan American Airlines memorabilia where he recalled his early trips to Hawaii in 1960's, made me think of my own very first air flight.

It was December 1954 and my parents had planned this wonderful trip to Hawaii during my Christmas vacation break from school. Our plans were to fly to Honolulu from Los Angeles and then return home via Matson's cruise ship the SS Lurline. Prior to this new adventure my vacations were mostly spend at the beach house or the occasional driving vacation that would leave me pouty and grumpy, kicking and carsick in the backseat of the family car.

I was quite excited about taking this first flight never having been up in any type of plane before. I had heard wonderful and exciting stories about flying, sometimes scary ones, but it never deterred my own desire to want to do this. Certainly people flew in the 1950's but not with such regularity and casualness as they do today. I don't know what it cost back then but I image it was a pretty expensive option.

We boarded our Pan Am flight to Honolulu around midnight at LAX. My best guess is that the plane was probably a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, this model featured a lower-deck lounge and bar, an innovation which, combined with a long range and high speed, made the Stratocruiser a very popular airliner. We were given a nice midnight snack and then settled in for a good night's sleep. Some of the adults would venture down to the lower-deck lounge for drinks and chit-chat.

Around eight hours later we would be awaken and handed a nice fresh hot towel for our face, give a little stretch and be served a delicious breakfast on china plates, and juice in a real glass. There was even a small baby Orchid on the plate for decoration. We had just enough time to enjoy all of this before it was time to land in Honolulu.

Imagine, Los Angeles to Honolulu in a mere nine hours, it couldn't get any better than this.


  1. I 'found' you thru Ross' blog. Thank you so much for telling TG about it so I could wiggle my way in! I loved reading it! I so admire anyone that can put their thoughts down like you can. I am a voracious reader so I am in awe of those who can write. I have lived my entire life in So.Cal. and more specifically in the SG Valley so I knew everywhere that you talked about. I currently live close to the former St.Lukes Hospital.
    Thanks again, I look forward to reading more!

  2. Thanks for the comment bethinca, nice to have you here.

  3. I love to read your stories on this blog. It is so much fun for me to read all about your little adventures that you had through out your life. Thanks grams. :-)

  4. What a wonderful memory :) I enjoyed reading this!