While I was cleaning up at my parent's house recently, some of what I was sorting through included all my childhood bits and pieces, basically a time capsule stored for the past 20 years. Many things surfaced that I had forgotten about, but one that I was delighted to find were my flight wings.


When I was 2 years old, my parent's took my older sister, my baby sister and me on a trip to England. My dad was sitting his Medical registration exams, so we were there for three months while he studied and sat the various exams. My mother always had a great love of adventure, so we did some travel at that time as a family. Here's a photo of all of us on the tarmac about to board our plane circa 1976. Mum made my travel outfit.... I'm the one in the fashion forward quilted yellow overalls. Mum is not wearing a green tracksuit - they weren't invented. That's a spiffy corduroy trouser suit. This was also back in the days when the relatives would stand behind a low wire fence and wave at the plane as it took off, having parked their car for free. How times have changed.



Back then, children were very unusual on an international flight. Usually we were the only ones on the entire plane. We would always be taken up to the cockpit to 'fly' the plane with the pilots, who would have already welcomed us by name over the loudspeaker as if we were celebrities. Air Hostesses would make a huge fuss over us. British Airways made us complimentary "Junior Jet Club" members, which meant that we were given our own flight badges to wear on board, and were sent special letters, promotional records with catchy jingles on them and various other magazines and things. I can't tell you how excited I was to find my wings a few months ago in amongst my childhood junk.



We had quite a few overseas holidays as children.... and I now realise how unusual it was and fortunate we were. At the time though, I found it intensely irritating to be constantly seeing yet another castle/ gallery/ stately home/ bell tower/ lake/ ruin. And in every photo from our family holidays, someone is in a sulk. By the time I was 10, Dad vowed never to go on another family holiday overseas with us all again. So the following year, Mum packed my sisters and I on the plane for another European holiday, and Dad stayed home. Mum had us Eurailing from Rome through to Paris. We all had to drag our own suitcases around on our own. Frankly, looking back, I can't believe she did it.

Perhaps this is why I avoid travel with my own family like the plague. When they are older maybe I will try again, but when Mr AV asks me to consider a holiday involving flights, time zone changes, language barriers and logistical difficulties it leaves me feeling as if it will be no real holiday for me at all.

While I don't get to do a lot of travel these days, Mr AV does all the time for work. He was telling me that Qantas have introduced a new passenger system for their frequent flyers. On his last International flight, he was greeted by name as he stepped on the plane, the flight attendants very keen to bring him a Gin and Tonic straight away. Without him mentioning it. At first he was pleasantly surprised. By the end of his trip he was wondering if they'd marked him on their passenger manifesto as an alcoholic due to the sheer number of times they soothingly told him they'd bring him another G&T. Apparently all the Flight Attendants now carry iPads with the details of the passengers personal likes and dislikes on it. All very personal, in a slightly big brother/ creepy way.

So maybe they are trying to bring back some of the magic of travel - from the era back before we were all herded onto the planes and given a cardboard snack box with pre packaged food in it. From the time before having to shuffle through security with shoes off, toiletries in clear plastic bags and the certain confiscation of knitting needles and other extremely dangerous weapons. And all the random explosive checks they carry out on your carry on baggage (that random person always being me). After all that, it would be quite nice to be greeted by name, and offered a G&T without asking. Lets hope it's the start of a new era in flying.

23 comments:

  1. Oh I want to fly with Quantas now, that sounds wonderful.
    I remember those wings! And the days of getting in to the cockpit, boy we were spoiled then, weren't we?
    I once stalled before a flight because I had to hand over my very special very wonderful very precious ...eyebrow tweezers! Hubs and I had a huge fight as I was saying " well no, not going then, I love those tweezers and they don't exist anymore so I'm going home then"

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    1. Certainly Qantas are stepping things up on their international flights. You had the wings too? I think they stopped all that fairly quickly as the numbers of children flying started exploding within only a few years. I can understand your unwillingness to part with the tweezers. I saw someone throwing a fit over having their sharp scissors confiscated the other day but couldn't believe that they were thinking they'd even be allowed on board! xx

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  2. Heidi, these images are so so sweet. Love the yellow overalls and the Junior Jet Club flight badges! It must have been such an incredible experience living in the UK for a few months when you were younger.

    I too travelled overseas a lot with my parents, however I used to find the trips terrifying! My parents lost me when I was 5yrs old in HK for 10 minutes, left me with strangers in Denmark so they could have a boozy night out with friends and I got stuck in a rip in a canoe with my mum nearly a km off the beach in Penang... the 80's were a stressful time for me. I used to be so envious of the kids in my class who got to go to the Gold Coast.

    Now of course I realise what an incredible experience it was and no doubt you feel the same way.

    Your family photos are just gorgeous and Mr AV is so lucky with his G&T orders xxx

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    1. Your family holiday memories are so funny Fifi! I do feel the same way about the travel.... on the trip mum took us on solo, she left my sisters and I at Madame Taussauds for three hours so she could go and do some shopping on Oxford/ Regent/ Bond Street. I just can't imagine doing that these days - no mobile phones for one! xx

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  3. What a wonderful keepsake Heidi! Love your outfit. Your mum apart from being very stylish must have been very clever . How lucky were you to have a mum with such a zest for life ! I enjoy looking back on old family photos - sometimes very poignant. x

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    1. Mum was very adventurous - she really encouraged my sisters and I to travel and have careers of our own (probably because she married young and would have loved to have had more opportunities than offered in the 60's). I love looking at the old photos - such funny fashions for one! xx

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  4. Love the yellow jumpsuit. And your Mum's funky cord ensemble.

    I agree flying is a bit less glamorous now. I think a lot of that is also due to passengers who now wear any old thing (which I guess is not unreasonable on long haul flights...). When I was younger flying was more of an "occasion". We used to live in the north of Western Australia in the early 80s and my Mum used to make us wear a nice outfit on the plane (for a 2 hour flight to/from a mining town!).

    Interestingly we took the kids to NYC on Emirates and were in Economy. (Must admit to being spoilt as the last few times I flew just with The Farmer and there was a business component to the trip and so we were in business, so haven't flown economy for a while.) Having said that economy in Emirates was actually really nice and they had special backpacks and rugs for the kids which had a little velcro teddy wrapped around them. They also took polaroids of the kids and gave them to us in a special folder which the kids thought was fabulous. So they felt a bit special. I found a meet and greet service in Dubai which whizzed us through customs etc and that made everything feel a bit more special.

    I can remember coming back from backpacking in my early twenties, I was travelling with a blonde and a redhead (I am brunette so we were like a walking joke about three women walking into a bar or changing a light bulb or something.) It was a QANTAS flight and didn't have many Australians on it for some reason (weird but true). We were spoilt rotten with business class food and wine in economy and then allowed into the cockpit. Obviously pre Sept 11 2001.....

    Hope you have a fabulous day. Hit 43 degrees here yesterday and was humid as hell. Truly revolting.

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    1. Don't you just wish it was April already with the weather?!! That's so funny you used to dress up for your flight. I saw some kids wearing pyjamas in the airport the other day. Fine if they were going on an evening flight, but it was 11am, so seemed a little odd to me (and it was a domestic flight from Adelaide, so they hadn't been anywhere else prior). My personal pet hate is the matching velour tracksuit. I remember seeing my first one on our honeymoon, pale pink, and thinking how ridiculous it looked. xx

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  5. i love love love the travel outfit! Do you still have that somewhere? You could give to your children...
    That ansett photo takes me back though!
    I remember back then even in economy as there werent that many people flying and traveling - there were rows of empty seats on our flight to and from Australia - we all got a row each - it was fabulous.

    travel with children is like comedy isn't it? tragedy plus time makes it funny ;) you should go on a trip on eurail in europe with your 3 children on your own and do a whole separate blog about it!

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    1. The overalls are long gone.... thank goodness!

      I remember the lack of passengers too - so different now when they always fly full. we used to sleep across the rows of seats. I also remember flying with the smoking section on board - thank God that's now over. We were once place in the row in front of the smoking section and my mother went absolutely nuts at the staff over it! No way I'll go eurailing with the kids. Would rather stab myself in my eyes first!!! What torture xx

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  6. Great photos! How wonderful to travel so much as a child!

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    1. We were very lucky, if unappreciative! xx

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  7. Dear Heidi

    Love the pictures! Your yellow (Marimekko?) overalls were gorgeous. And your mother was a remarkable woman, such a fabulous spirit of adventure and so confident and daring.

    I must be rather a similar age to your parents because I remember both Qantas and Singapore Arline and maybe BA giving out the Junior Jet Club wing badges and flight log books and toys. It was a great thrill for kids to be taken up to the cockpit. - As the Mum I used to accompany them up there and could see all the bright lights on the instrument panels but only from outside the door while children were allowed inside and even got to touch things.

    Nowadays I loathe all the business connected with international airline travel. Yes controls are necessary for security but it's just horrible having to open the zip on your pants to allow them to poke around in your money belt. I suspect last time we were being security checked at Orly airport there was a bit of a conspiracy amongst the staff. We had far too many hand luggage bags I do admit - because we had to present them to the guy who stamps the detaxe forms. But I think the security enforcers saw this as an opportunity to fluster us with over zealous personal probing and then nick one or two of the bags while we were distracted, hoping we wouldn't notice one was missing.

    We loaded all our designer shopping bags on the belt to go through the X ray tunnel. Then they hauled me aside to make me pull down my jeans so they could feel inside my money belt. When I looked back to see if my husband was through so he could watch our precious bags, they had him way back, bare chested with his shirt right off and being examined by two people. Very distressing. When they finally let me go and I went to check our hand luggage, my Herend carrier bag was missing with all the lovely little pieces of Herend china. I asked them where it was and they said nothing was missing - all my bags were there. When I protested that there was indeed a bag missing they again denied it. So I stood to full height and projected my voice to the galleries calling for the manager/supervisor because one of my bags had been stolen at the security check. Everyone stopped and watched and listened. Suddenly my bag appeared as if by magic, and not from the tunnel. It had been hidden on the floor against the inside of the counter where the enforcers stand! A very unpleasant experience and has made me think it's not worth going through the hassle of trying to claim detax.

    It does sound rather spooky having all that information on your husband stored on their I-pads. All the offers of G&Ts was excessive and rather offensive. Qantas haven't got its act together properly yet.

    But I do remember the old days before the oil crisis when travel in First Class really was grand luxe and had a touch of glamour, I was lucky enough to have enjoyed a number of flights like this.

    In those days airport terrorism really was terrifying though. We once flew into Rome for a couple of nights in December 1973 only days after there had been a massive attack on the airport: bombs and machine guns, both on the terminal and on a plane - with many people killed. As we stood waiting to board our flight back to Australia, right where we were standing there were huge bullet holes at head height in the plate glass. The airport was full of trigger happy Italian police and military all running about in squads with weapons drawn because they'd had an alert of another attack pending. I'm not sure if I was more scared of them or the possibility of more terrorists. We were so pleased when our plane went safely wheels up. Best wishes, Pamela

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    1. Goodness Pamela - I can't believe that story about the Herend. How incredibly dodgy. The tax thing is a massive pain.... we had to do it at Rome airport, and it took so long to get through that, plus all the other inefficient queues that we only just made our plane, and we were there 3 hours before it! Makes me think maybe it isn't worth it either.... You have certainly done a lot of flying. Mum and Dad flew concord from New York to London once, and Dad still gets misty eyed recalling how incredibly luxurious it was. Nowadays, you just feel incredibly blessed if they give you a bottle of water (we were on an economy flight to New York where they ran out of water....) xx

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    2. These are such wonderful stories! So different to the way our family has travelled over the years! My parents (who have flown os every year for 40 years) once remember flying Aeroflot in the days when the seats were barely bolted to the floor and goats ran up and down the aisles. (The goats had broken loose from their crate in the back.) My parents often never knew if they'd land safely or not.

      So much goes on behind the scenes that pax don't know about. I once wrote an article for the SMH and Age about the antics behind the blue curtains. I was told by a number of people (very high up in different airlines) that 2 male pilots had once become bored, stripped off and had sex in the cockpit - while the plane was still flying. I couldn't believe this until I researched it, and sure enough, the story had substance. Also heard lots of funny stories about the new Body Cupboards on the A380s, and what the celebs get up to in First Class. Notably a certain Mr Hutchence and his singing girlfriend in a seat behind Paul Keating on a flight to London... Oh, the things those attendants must see... xx

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    3. Janelle, you are SO full of good gossip.... we must catch up on my next trip to Melbourne! I can't believe your parents were brave enough to fly Aeroflot.... wasn't it aeroflot that crashed into a mountain in China, and when they retrieved the black box they found that the pilot's kid had been flying the plane while he had a nap? And that was fairly recently.... xx

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    4. Yes, Janelle, they were incredibly brave! There are so many stories about Aeroflot - and also about Air Nauru.
      Worked with someone who had to fly Air Nauru from time to time and he told so many hysterical hair-raisers. Because distances between S. Pacific island countries are so vast it can get boring. One flight the captain wandered out into the cabin to talk to the passengers. Probably not very unusual. After some time the co-pilot got bored too and came out to see what the captain was up to, leaving the plane on autopilot. Then they hit an airpocket and the hijack proof door back into the cockpit slammed shut leaving the two pilots in the cabin and no-one up front. This was unusual.
      Luckily it was a Pacific route and they weren't at all strict in those days with what people carried on as hand luggage. The pilots were able to collect a few machetes and tomahawks. Finally after a great deal of effort the passengers and crew chopped a hole where the lock was so they could open the door and the pilots resumed their places up front. Everyone cheered.
      My work colleague said that from then on this plane flew with the door into the cockpit swinging backwards and forwards all through the flight. Never was repaired. And people think a diplomatic life is glamorous! Best wishes, Pamela

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  8. What wonderful memories to treasure and how brave was your mum taking you all solo! We travelled as children too by force of necessity as my parents lived overseas....at 10 & 11 my sister and I used to fly as unaccompanied minors from Sydney to Jakarta.....remember when they used to spray the plane after you landed? We regularly travel with our 4 children (yet sometimes leave them at home too) and in the past it has helped to take a babysitter for the flight and a couple of weeks of the stay or rendezvous with a friend's recent school leaver on their gap year.....so much more fun to go out for lunch in Paris sans enfants! Saying that haven't organised anyone for our next long flight and I break into a cold sweat whenever I think of it as dreading that the two year old will be terrible....will need Laduree cake and champagne to calm my nerves when we get there! Rx

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    1. They only stopped the fly spray thing relatively recently, didn't they?? Wasn't it stupid! You could have had anything in your bag and it would have survived that (just the passengers choking on the poison instead). I think 2 years is a terrible age to travel with.... Good Luck!! I have read about your travels on the blog, and think in a lot of way you have the same spirit of adventure and curiosity about the world that my mum had. xx

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  9. Junior Jet Club, cockpit and poisonous spray here too! Now where are my wings and logbook I wonder??

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    1. Maybe your wings are on eBay.... they sell for $20 now! Untold riches, but I think I'll keep mine for sentimental reasons. Plus next time I go on BA I might wear them to see if they let me fly the plane again!! x

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  10. I love the photos of you as a kid with your fam and the outfits are just gorgeous.

    We flew for boarding school from Darwin to Bne in the 80s for 5 years and everyone dressed up. I remember the visits to the cockpit too...

    x

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    1. The outfits are completely hilarious! It always disappoints me when I fly now... some of the things people wear for a one hour flight shouldn't see the light of day. I had to sit next to an absolutely massive Bogan on my flight to Melbourne last month... he smelt like he was wearing the clothes he'd worn to the pub the night before (mildew/ smoke/ dirty/ BO) - denim shorts and a Metallica t-shirt. He then ordered a Bourbon and Coke, at 11am on a Thursday. Honestly, I nearly passed out from the alcoholic fumes he was emanating. He was also in row 4 of the plane, which suggested he was a frequent flyer.... wasn't nice! xx

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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