The golden age of air travel revisited

This summer, Libbie Escolme-Schmidt, author of Glamour in the Skies: the Golden Age of the Air Stewardess read extracts from her book at the National Museum of Flight. In this guest post, she explains what it was like to visit the museum and see the Boeing 707 in our Jet Age exhibition.

I loved the National Museum of Flight and I was so impressed by the 707 – it looked ready to take off!

I flew on that aircraft and as I looked into the flight deck I remembered with nostalgia all those cups of tea I used to take up to the pilots in the days when the flight deck door was permanently open… when everyone chatted to everyone else, passengers wandered about the aircraft. The atmosphere was relaxed with an undertow of anticipation: the ambience of travel in the golden age. Leisurely seven-course first class meals  on napery with the best of wines and champagne. Economy class had cutlery, not plastic, and individual salts and peppers, glasses for their wine. It was elegant too and unhurried, and there was conversation with those passengers – no in-flight entertainment had its rewards!

The Boeing 707 in the Jet Age exhibition
The Boeing 707 in the Jet Age exhibition.

The 707 always had a unique sound to me, a kind of friendly whine with a bit of grunt every so often!

As an aviation historian, as I am now called, I was so thrilled to see what a fabulous job the museum had done with what I know must have been a rather sad piece of equipment. What is there now is a proud piece of history, a pristine old lady who knew her stuff. Well done: the Boeing 707 lives on…

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