Dan Wheldon–2 time Indianapolis 500 (see my previous post) winner, died in a fiery crash on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at the Izod Indycar World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The race was only several laps old (unclear if it was 11, 12 or 13 laps as gleaned from different sites) into the 200 lap race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, when contact between two cars in front of Wheldon, triggered a massive 15 car crash throwing debris up and down a large section of the track.
Mr Wheldon’s car was propelled into the air over another car into a catch fence and burst into flames. Dan was air lifted to a nearby hospital where he later died from his injuries.
There was concern during practice about the speeds reaching in excess of 220 miles per hour and the number of cars on the track, 34 in the competition.
It was decided to end the race and in Dan Wheldon’s honor, drivers took part in a five lap salute around the oval track as the fans stood and cheered from the grandstand.
Wheldon, of Emberton, England, was 33. He is survived by his wife, Susie, two young sons, his parents, Clive and Susie, and three siblings.
This tragic accident cost the life of one of Dario Franchitti’s longtime friends and former teammate at then-Andretti Green Racing.
“Right now I’m numb and speechless,” Franchitti said. “One minute you’re joking around in driver intros and the next he’s gone. He was 6 years old when I first met him. He was this little kid and the next thing you know he was my teammate”.
Franchitti continues, “We put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships and today it doesn’t matter.”
Jet set–that was a term coined back in the 1950′s to mean ‘an international social set made up of wealthy people who travel from one fashionable place to another’. If you were one of those persons, then you were a jet setter–but of course, you knew that.
Travel by jet in the 1960′s was expensive by today’s standards. According to USInflationCalculator.com, a flight that costed $75 in the ’60s, would have costed $574 today. If we use a typical cost for airfare today, like $300 back in the ’60s, it would have been equivalent to $2,296 today. Wow!
Flying back in the 1960′s was so different from today. Following are some of my recollections:
- If you were a nervous flyer or just someone that enjoyed smoking, then you could puff to your hearts content anywhere on the plane. Much to the chagrin of your neighboring non-smoker. Eventually they cordoned off a section for smokers only (which was pretty much useless on a plane). Then they did away with smoking altogether on the majority of flights.
- Back in the early days of flying, it was considered a luxury, so people use to dress up when they traveled. Unlike today where casual wear, such as shorts and jeans is the norm (I actually prefer this mode of dress, due to the comfort factor).
- I remember as you walked towards the gate for departure at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), they had these Mutual of Omaha insurance machines that allowed you to purchase flight insurance right from the machine. You put your money in and out comes a policy, right on the spot.
- Back in the ’60s, to check-in for your flight, you basically just walk up to the counter, check-in, drop your bags off and go straight to the gate. There was no pat downs, X-ray machines or taking off your shoes. Plus, if your family or friends wanted to, they could park their car, and meet you at the gate to see you off. Today, you have to stand in one line to check-in, then you cart your bags over to another line to get them X-rayed and possibly searched for explosives. They have bomb sniffing dogs cruising the airports, you are subjected to searches if you set off the alarm going through the metal detector. You have to take your shoes off and have them X-rayed. Oh, and now they have full body scanners, that check you from head to toe…don’t even get me started on this one. Isn’t this a great way to start a relaxing vacation.
- Meals on planes were better back then, plus you usually got a choice of entree and you got real metal utensils. Compared to today… what meals! A bag of peanuts and a sandwhich.
- I remember at the baggage claim area, you had to wheel your bags up to the exit and have an attendant check your baggage claim tags that were stapled to your ticket/ticket holder, against what was on the luggage that you were taking out. This was a nice idea I guess to cut down or eliminate baggage theft, but if sometimes took a long time to get out the door. I’ve never had a bag stolen from baggage claim, so I guess this was a good decision to eliminate it.
If you can think of any other 1960′s flying experiences, please send me a comment!
Airlines that I remember from the ’60s, that no longer exist today: Pan Am, TWA, Eastern & PSA to name a few. The stewardesses from PSA reminded me of Go-Go dancers with the uniforms that they wore.
Pan Am was the largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until it’s financial collapse on December 4, 1991, according to wikipedia.com. According to another website, it was stated that after the Laukerbee, Scotland disaster on December 21, 1988, that killed all passengers and crew, this is what caused the demise of the airline.
The subject of this post, “Flying In The 1960′s” has been in my draft set of posts for quite some time, but since I saw that a new television series named Pan Am was coming to our local television network, I decided to get working on it and post it.
Following are supposedly true comments that airline employees made over the years. I find some of these hard to believe, so take it with a grain of salt, and consider the source (the web) and enjoy them for their entertainment value:
–On a Continental flight with a very “senior” flight attendant crew, the pilot said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.”
–On landing, the stewardess said, “Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you’re going to leave anything, please make sure it’s something valuable.”
–”Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”
–As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fella. WHOA!”
–After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, “Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted.”
–From a Southwest Airlines employee: “Welcome aboard Southwest Flight 245 to Tampa. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised.”
–In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face.
–If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with two or more small children, decide now which one you love more.
–Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, we’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines.”
–”Your seat cushions can be used for flotation, and in the event of an emergency water landing, please take them with our compliments.”
–”Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the bag over your own mouth and nose before assisting children or adults acting like children.”
–Once on a Southwest flight, the pilot said, “We’ve reached our cruising altitude now, and I’m turning off the seat belt sign. I’m switching to autopilot, too, so I can come back there and visit with all of you for the rest of the flight.”
–”Last one off the plane must clean it.”
–”As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”
–And from the pilot during his welcome message: “We are pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry… Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight…!”
–Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day. During the final approach the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant came on the PA and announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”
–Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City: The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump and I know what ya’ll are thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendants’ fault…it was the asphalt!”
–Another flight attendant’s comment on a less than perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”
–After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the Flight Attendant came on with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we’ll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.”
–An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a “Thanks for flying XYZ airline.” He said that in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for this little old lady walking with a cane. She said, “Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?” “Why no Ma’am,” said the pilot, “what is it?” The little old lady said, “Did we land or were we shot down?”
–Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go zipping through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of us here at US Airways.”
–Heard on a Southwest Airline flight. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light ‘em, you can smoke ‘em.”
–A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, nonstop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax.. OH, MY GOD!” Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!” A passenger in Coach yelled, “That’s nothing. You should see the back of mine.”
–A crowded United Airlines flight was canceled. A single agent was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS.” The agent replied, “I’m sorry sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.” The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?” Without hesitating, the agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. “May I have your attention please,” she began her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. “We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 14.”
–On a Southwest flight (SW has no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, “People, people we’re not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!”