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Leaving On A Jet Plane

In June 1972 before flying became a total pain in the ass, I was fortunate enough to get to fly out of Sydney, Australia one beautiful evening on one of the first four Boeing 747 Queen of the Skies jumbo jet airliners purchased and put into service that year by Qantas Airlines. The one we flew on still had that new aircraft smell and it was still the age of the Jet Set, as yet to face the threat of fuel shortages during the 1973 oil crisis.

Donning the headset piping music through hollow tubing (yup, hollow tubing, not electronic wiring), I listened to Bread, Arlo Guthrie, Three Dog Night, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and other recording artists of that era as we soared into the skies toward Honolulu. The plane was almost empty, so the stewardesses let us spread out to each have a complete row of seats we could stretch out across and sleep away the five thousand mile journey across the Pacific, bringing us blankets and pillows then turning the lights down low. We were served the finest in-flight dinner I've ever had in my life and we watched the movie Pete and Tillie on a big screen. Upon crossing the international date line, pretty stewardesses gave us Qantas Wings to mark the event, bending down close to pin them to our shirts with a smile and a wink. Enough to make a sixteen-year-old boy's glands explode on the spot.

I doubt I'll ever fly again. Certainly not in such style as that flight from Sydney to Honolulu. The Qantas 747s have all been retired and hauled out to plane graveyards like the ones in the Mojave desert. The days of delightful jetting around the world in such glorious style and comfort are long gone, never to return.

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