Do you aspire to fly with the big leagues of the airline game? Have you been lucky enough to land an interview, only to get the dreaded letter that says they are so sorry they can’t use you and good luck in your flying career? Or do you just wonder how that whole preposterous convoluted process works? I once blogged on my experience getting hired at my airline. Click here if you wish to read it: How I Tried Not To Get Hired. But now I’m compelled now to tell you what happened to Garth (not his real name).
Garth was one of my first officers on the trip I just finished down to Sao Paulo. It was an excellent trip. Garth is easy to get along with, as was the other F/O and we enjoyed bellying up to the table at one of SP’s delightful sidewalk cafes. Garth knew exactly where to go. The place was right out of Saint Exupery, and not so far removed from it. As he cut into his tender medium-rare grass-fed bovine slab and washed it down with a rich Patagonian Malbec, he casually mentioned his last job. I froze in mid-bite. That job was highly unusual for a pilot, especially one with a military background. I then bade his story to be told, and a bizarre one it was.
Garth was a Navy pilot. He flew hellos and later T-34s as an instructor at that winged squid mecca, Pensacola. It was some of the greatest years of his life, he said. Aspiring to make himself as attractive as possible to a big airline he flew the T-34 mission as much as he could. He volunteered to fly test hops, instruction flights, evaluation flights and cross-countries. He racked up the hours. He fattened his resume, too, with some time in a bigger mount, the DC-9 which the Navy used for hospital patient flights. Then the time came for him to become a civilian airman. He separated from the USN and filed his applications.
Nothing happened. Nothing. The grocery funds got low. He pondered doing something else with his life—the airline business was obviously bypassing him. Then he hit on an idea. “I’m a people person,” he said. “I like to help people, serve them, laugh with them. I thought maybe I should become a flight attendant.” He applied.
Seeing the tall, big-shouldered handsome bronze-skinned and very articulate ex-Navy jock must have reminded the interview panel of Val Kilmer in “Top Gun” and they hired him immediately. He set about plying the skies in the aisles behind the compartment he wish to be in, but he made no complaint about his new station in life and commenced to make many friends, including a flight attendant who was to become Mrs. Garth. Then one day as he was conversing with his fellows in the forward galley, a business-suited passenger in first class overheard him mention that he was a Navy pilot.
The man beckoned him over. “I heard you say you were a Navy pilot,” the fancy-suiter said. “Why are you back here rather than up there?” His finger pointed toward the cockpit. Garth smiled and shrugged. “I couldn’t get an interview.” The man handed him a business card. “Call me later. Let’s talk.”
Being enjoined by his purser to get to work, Garth thanked the man and pocketed the card without looking at it. He would learn later that the bearer of the card was the company vice-president of flight operations.
So, you think Garth’s unbelievable good fortune in meeting this man became his ticket to the front office? Think again. But tune in next blog to find out, because they say you’re not supposed to make blog entries too long ;)Sao Paulo, Brazil was named after the Apostle Paul of Tarsus. These pictures, taken BTW by the jumpseat pilot on approach, show how it is the largest city in the southern hemisphere, and the ninth largest city in the world with over 20 million souls. Incredible. This definitely ain't Kansas.