We all have many “firsts” in our lives – first kiss, first love, and first pet, all of which are memorable. I would have to add to that list my first airplane ride which occurred in 1959 in Texas, and it was a memorable event to say the least.
Having been married for a year and unable to find a good job because of being classified 1-A in the government’s draft system, I was elated to receive an invitation from the Smith-Carona-Marchant Calculator Company to visit their office in Dallas, Texas for a job interview. The prospective employer was about to make a hiring decision and requested that I visit them as soon as possible. I made the decision that flying to Dallas from the nearby city of Lufkin would be the fastest way to make the two hundred mile trip.
At that time in history, there was only one airline that flew out of the small Lufkin airport which was TTA, or Trans-Texas Airlines. They were affectionately also known as “Tree Top Airlines” here in East Texas. They eventually changed their company name to Southwest Airlines, still in business.
My wife accompanied me to the Lufkin airport early the next morning, about forty-five miles from our home. She was going to drop me off at the airport and drive back to her job. As we drove up to the terminal I noted the airplane parked and waiting for passengers. It was a twin engine DC3 which looked pretty small to me, but I was a novice flyer so who was I to judge?
After boarding the airplane I had to walk “downhill” to find my seat. I had just buckled my seat belt and relaxed a bit getting ready for takeoff. Then I felt a bulge in my right pant pocket. I pulled it out and almost panicked when I saw that this bulge was my key ring with the keys to our car and house. Without the car keys my wife would be stranded at the airport. I had to do something and do it quickly!