Wednesday, June 19

Andy Bidasio

Among the many great joys of serving with the Flagship is getting to meet some true aviation pioneers who actually worked on the Detroit when she was a brand new airliner.
Angelo Bidasio
Angelo "Andy" Bidasio went to work for American Airlines at Midway Airport in Chicago in 1936.   We had the pleasure of meeting him, his lovely wife Mary, son Bob, and daughter in law Marilyn in Tulsa.  Mary had seen the newspaper article about the Detroit offering membership rides and told Andy--"You've got to do this".  After a little family persuasion Andy and Mary, chauffeured by Bob and Marilyn, came to Sparks Aviation with an incredible scrapbook filled with mementos of Andy's 43 year career with American.  Andy started as a parts washer for DC-2s in Chicago and worked his way up to mechanic.  His son, Bob, also worked for American but couldn't start till 1979 when Andy retired, as American had an  anti-nepotism hiring policy at the time.  Besides his wonderful scrapbook, Mary showed us one of his original work shirts, with American Airlines embroidered in script on the back. 
Andy and family with pilots David Gorrell and Tom Taff
Mary and Andy met in Spring Valley, Illinois, when Andy and some friends came over from Chicago--about 40 miles away--because they heard about a great white fish sandwich on Italian bread, which you could get for free if you bought a beer, according to Mary.  "We loved to dance", said Mary, "and there weren't a lot of boys around because of the war, so sometimes the girls had to dance with each other."  It turns out there was a band playing across the street and Andy and his friends came over and he asked Mary to dance.  As they talked he told her he was from New York and worked for American Airlines.  "American Airlines?" said Mary, "Well I've been writing to Hazel Brooks (chief stewardess for AA) and I'm all set to become a stewardess."  As it turns out, Mary's stewardess dreams never materialized, because Andy and Mary were married on June 6, 1942.  And of course, at the time, stewardesses could not be married.  But according to Mary, "it was the best decision I ever made."  They just celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.  The Detroit was probably indirectly involved in their courtship, because as Mary said, "our courtship was primarily by U.S. Mail."
Andy with current American mechanics
They were an exceptional couple. Did I mention that Andy is 96 years young?   We have been fortunate to meet several Flagship pioneers, all in their 90's.  It is truly an honor to be able to preserve their legacy.
Andy really enjoyed his flight on the Detroit and was privileged to ride the entire time in the jump seat.
(Number one Stewardess Peggy Fairchild authored this piece)

No comments:

Post a Comment