Sunday, September 16, 2007

MKT Operations

Beginning in the early part of 1980, I became a regular fixture around the Mankato Airport Terminal, mostly thanks to my Father's patience and transportation for a pleading 10 year old. I'd struck up conversations and subsequent friendships with the Station Agents (Keith, Lowell and Lloyd) and was nicknamed the 'Convair Kid.' Surprise! My time spent with the agents was a learning experience indeed, where I'd be allowed behind the counter to tour/hang out in the offices to see the daily work schedules and routines. (Talk about a rare treat, especially in today's World of security.) On occasion, I'd be allowed to make the announcements of flight arrivals and pre-boarding calls, seeing there was only one agent on at any given flight arrival and departure. 'Republic Airlines announces the arrival of Flight 968 from Minneapolis/St Paul...we will begin the boarding process in 10 minutes or so, thank you.' Now, imagine that in a 10 year olds voice as an awaiting passenger! As the Convair would arrive, I'd see Keith, Lloyd or Lowell take the baggage truck out to the airplane, give the hand signals for engine shut down and 'open door' and would soon disappear to the right-rear baggage holding compartment. On one occasion, I had sent a handmade picture of a Convair up to the Captain and First Officer as a 'gift' from this admirer along with the weather information and assorted paperwork. Almost as immediately as received, I noticed a pilot coming down the air stairs and into the terminal to greet me. With a warm smile, he said 'come on' and I was lead up the Convair air stairs to view the cockpit! What a treat. I was even allowed to sit in the Captain's seat for about 5 minutes, looking over the gauges, playing with the yoke and sharing great conversation with the pilots, and a curious Flight Attendant as well. 'Are you going to be a pilot for us someday' she asked with a smile. 'I SURE hope so!' I exclaimed. With that, I left the Convair, beaming with excitement at what I'd just experienced, and headed back to the office. I watched as they started up and taxied away, waving to me from the cockpit and I thought to myself, 'I NEED to be a part of this...somehow.' I already was, I just didn't realize it!

Over time, I began to recognize the crews that flew into MKT, including pilots Charles Hanebuth, Jim Schuchman, Pat Korab and my favorite Flight Attendants, Marty and Michelle. Whenever they saw me at the terminal, I'd be given their Crew Meals, old pilot handbooks, assorted Republic memorabilia and even an invitation to 'fly' the DC-9 Simulator in MSP whenever I had time. I mean, come on, WHO would go out of their way to allow a kid to fly a simulator, let alone eat their Crew Meals??? What a WONDERFUL group of people that I shall never forget...oh, and thank you again F/A Marty for making me a Birthday Cake one year. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I to grew up around NC/RC in Milwaukee, however since MKE was a large station I never got to go behind the scenes like you Peder. A couple of times I was invited in to OPS, and I want to thank Ken Keifer for all the time spent with me and teaching me about North Central.