Friday, January 9, 2009

'Airplane Geek'

Prior to this past year's Airliner's Show in MSP, I'd been in contact with a fellow North Central fan, and blog follower, Steven Zimmerman of Mankato, MN. It turns out that Steven was doing the same thing I was doing around the MKT airport (see prior stories/blog postings), just in different years! Small World.
Alas, I was able to meet with Steven at the MSP Airliner's Show this past Spring, which is always a good thing to put a face with a name! He recently sent me this story and photos to share with everyone.

"My very first plane ride was on North Central Airlines. Flight #75, a DC-9 from Minneapolis to Minot, ND. I had informed my Mom in the Spring of 1974 that I was going to save up my babysitting earnings and fly to Minot and spend the Summer with my Grandparents, who lived in Williston, ND. I was 14 years old and my Mom told me that she would match what ever I could save. Well, I managed to save enough money, and then some! I can remember taking all my earnings to the Travel Agency with my Mom to purchase the ticket. Yes, back then if you wanted to fly somewhere, you went to a Travel Agent! Now, all I had to do was wait for a whole week before my flight. I remember getting the ticket out every night just to look at it. I couldn't believe I was actually going to fly on an airplane!

I had been an 'airplane geek' every since my Mom took em to see the movie 'AIRPORT' in 1970. I was all of 9 years old, but I fell in love with airplanes after that. I knew that NCA flew in and out of Mankato (MKT) because I would run outside every time I heard the Convair 580 approaching overhead. I would wonder who was on the plane and where they were coming from, or where they were going. I soon began writing to NCA for any information that they could send me, informing them that I was doing 'research' for a school project. A total lie! After about a week, I would receive an over sized envelope stuffed with goodies. I was in heaven! That's how I began planning my first studying the timetable.

When THE DAY finally came, It was sunny and clear, with just the right amount of fluffy white clouds. A perfect Summer day. We took off over the old Met Stadium and headed North to Minot. The flight was perfect and we had a stop in Grand Forks, which was fine with me, because that meant another take off! I remember keeping from the flight a wet nap, a napkin with Herman printed on it, the in flight magazine and even the 'Just in Case' Emergency Card. The latter of which had printed in small letters 'DO NOT REMOVE FROM AIRCRAFT.' The flight crew also gave me a pair of wings and a deck of cards with Herman on them. Oh, if only I'd kept all my treasures from that flight!

I was now hooked on flying. I soon began flying to Minneapolis from Mankato on the Convair 580. Leaving in the late morning I would spend the day at the airport, filling my NCA flight bag with timetables from all the different airlines. I'd return to Mankato in the late afternoon. Although I don't remember exactly how many times I did this, I do remember my friends thinking I was nuts! Later on, NCA began flying to Chicago from Mankato, so, of course, did I! The DC-9 would leave Mankato with a stop in Rochester, then on to Chicago. From Chicago it was another DC-9 to Minneapolis and then a Convair 580 back to Mankato. I would spend the entire afternoon exploring O'Hare Airport. Back then, as long as you had a ticket, you could go pretty much anywhere in the airport. I can't believe my parents actually let me fly to Chicago's O'Hare Airport...alone! But, I never had any problems. Flying back then was so much more fun and exciting than it is today. I will always have fond memories of flying North Central Airlines."

Steven sent along some photos of his adventures at the MSP Airport for us to enjoy. THANKS Steven for sharing the stories and photos with us!!! :)


Anonymous said...

Great story!! Love the photos. They are one of a kind. The head on shot of the Convair was great.


Greg said...

Hi Steve,
Wow, That must have been a experience. I don't know how I missed that time that we could have done some of that together when we were younger. Alas, I guess it wasn't meant to be. Maybe someday. Anyway I liked your story. I never knew the passion you had flying so many times to Chicago and back at that time. Greg S.