Wednesday, February 16, 2011

'The Old Days'

Hello everyone, After a long hiatus, as well as a few trips, it's time to post again!
In hopes of hearing more from our blog viewers, I wrote a few months ago about sending in your stories, comments, memories and what have you. In that end, I've received ONE response...hey, I'm happy! Today, I'll be posting that message for all to see. It's about days long gone by, and the time and service North Central employees took to answer communications by kids, and adults alike, and what their outcomes were...enjoy!

My great thanks to DAVE SWANSON for sending these in...without our viewers and contributors, we'd be nothing!


"My fascination with aviation began on the old terminal ramp in Grand Rapids, Michigan standing behind the chain-link with my mom as we waited for my father to return from work trips. He always returned aboard the Vickers Viscounts that UAL operated from the old GRR airport in the early ‘60s. North Central and Lake Central then also served GRR, both with DC-3s.

When I was a 10 year-old Cub Scout, one of the challenges our Den Mother had for us “old timers” was to write 3 letters to 3 different people who we did not know with the hope of receiving a reply from one. Being one of the lucky ones, I got responses from all of my letters. The first one went to LBJ. The next letter went all the way to England for the last Captain of the Queen Mary. And, the last one was for the man in charge of the NCA station at Grand Rapids.

Soon after, our mailman delivered a large manila envelope addressed to me that contained a very cool DC-9-32 ground maintenance manual, a North Central Airlines employment pamphlet, and an invitation from NCA’s senior station agent at GRR…

My mom and I were treated to a very cordial tour of the NCA facility at GRR by Senior Station Agent Dan Legner. He generously gave us some time out of his workday to show us NCA operations at GRR, including a walk on the ramp! To a kid hooked on all things flying, our visit was a blast! It was hard, then, to imagine that one could work on and around such aircraft and get paid money for it, too! Something I knew, deep-down inside, was that going to “work at the airport” was what I wanted for me when I grew-up…

42 years later and 33 years into my career as an ATC, I can reflect back on so many of the fun aviation things I’ve been lucky enough to do. I have flown many trips in air carrier cockpits as an additional observing crewman in lots of types including Republic Convairs and DC-9s. I have been assigned to work OSH Tower and FLD Tower during the EAA’s AirVenture gatherings. And, once, I was privileged to go behind the scenes for a real good look at NCA."

Dave Swanson,
Kalamazoo, Michigan