Saturday, March 30

Florida International Air Show-Punta Gorda

 It was yet another sunny Florida afternoon when the Flagship departed from the Stuart Jet Center and glided into Punta Gorda, Florida on March 22 to begin her appearance at the Florida International Air Show.  After reaching our parking space, we found charming former stewardess Valerie Brodeur Hill, who had waited patiently for our arrival with her friends Dick Lyons and George Gaviria.   Valerie, who will be 90 on April 17, and her sister Suzanne Brodeur Wright, had both been AA stewardesses.  Suzanne, who unfortunately was unable to join us, had flown from 1942 through 1947, and Valerie flew from 1946 through 1950.  She brought her wonderful scrapbook, with mementos from her incredible career, flying in those exciting times immediately after WWII.  She got to meet Charles deGaulle when AA sent her as a representative of American Overseas Airways to the first Paris Air Show after WWII.  There were many rare photos, including one that looked extremely familiar. We soon realized that it was the original photo of the one that we have displayed on our galley for some time now, of a beautiful, smiling stewardess holding a food tray.  "Oh yes", said Valerie, "that's Eileen Henkel, she was a roommate of mine".  Below Eileen's picture in the scrapbook was her wedding invitation.  What a thrill for those of us who love Flagship history to know who our formerly unidentified stewardess is, and that the picture was taken between 1947 and 1949.
Bill Brooks, Jim Skelly and Dennis Pugsley
  Valerie then told about meeting her husband-to-be on Beacon Street in Boston.  She was on her way to the airport and missed the streetcar by a few minutes.  "We were always broke, and I was worried about how I was going to pay for a taxi, when a convertible stopped and the man inside asked if I was going to the airport.  I thought it was probably safe to accept a ride since he had a convertible and people could see me if I needed help.  Well, it turned out he was a Harvard man and a lawyer, and was working at the airport tower.  He asked me out to dinner and then I think he took me to play golf.  He was a great golfer.  One thing led to another and we were married."  Her first comment upon entering the Flagship was that "it looks just the same, and it just doesn't seem like such a long time ago."  We could have talked to Valerie for hours.  She was a delight and it was a privilege to have her visit the Flagship.

Worn out Captain
The air show provided a great pre party on Friday night, complete with fireworks, and wonderful lunches all weekend.  There were lots of volunteers from local schools and sports teams and they couldn't have been nicer.   Everyone enjoyed the town of Punta Gorda, in spite of the tropical rains that hit on Friday night.  The town was devastated during Hurricane Charley several years ago, and has been working to rebuild.  There is a great new indoor/outdoor mall called Fisherman's Village with nice restaurants and shops. Sunset views were magnificent.  The crew enjoyed  Sunday night dinner at a really nice downtown restaurant called River City Grill.  Also, Shorty's became a gathering place for the pre and post dinner crowd.  For further review on this spot, contact Dennis Pugsley.
The weekend was full of wonderful friends, both old (well, relatively speaking) and new. Judy DeSantis was a huge hit with her medley of big band favorites, and many visitors commented that it really "made" their day.  People were very patient, as the afternoons grew warm and even our tireless crew started feeling the heat.  (See Captain Tony on his crew rest break.) Gary Noviski was a welcome
Hard working crew member Michelle Brooks
addition to the crew and it was a pleasure to meet his wife Donna.  Lynn and Dave Buffington flew in to Orlando and were chauffeured over to Stuart by Jim Skelly.  Dennis Pugsley and Bill and Michelle Brooks were invaluable as always.  Scott Main and his son Russell were with us.  Many congratulations to Russell as he just found out that he has been accepted in to Air Force flight training after his graduation from the ROTC program at the University of Central Florida.  Steve Jacobson flew in to TPA on Friday night and braved the torrential rains to join us till Sunday.  Peggy Fairchild played stewardess as only she can do it, to the nines. Flagship pilot member AJ Jackson flew his Stearman over and Jim Kilpatrick, also a pilot member, brought his Yak 52.

It was another successful weekend for the Flagship and wonderful memories for all involved.  We hope to see you in New Smyrna Beach, April 5-7.

No comments:

Post a Comment