Tuesday, February 22, 2011

52 Weeks - Entering the Jet Age

If I had all the commemorative airplane models that my father (Harold Burk) received during his career as a travel agent, I'd be sitting on a gold mine.

Whenever a new plane (such as the Super Constellation, above) entered service, the airlines and/or manufacturers would hype the new technology by sending travel agents a model of that new model.

My father had this very plane (not the DIY model) on his desk for years and years. It was painted with the now-defunct Eastern Airlines colors, as this model is. He had others, too, but this one is most vivid in my mind.

My father was born just one year after the Wright Brothers successfully made their first flight and became, for a time, the most famous inventors in the world. I doubt Dad was in many planes before his service in WWII, but afterward, as a travel agent, he flew more than the average person--but not as often as he'd like.

One of Dad's perks was getting freebie tickets to tourist flights over what was then Idlewild Airport in Queens, NY (now JFK Airport). When I was in elementary school, our whole family would go over to Idlewild, flash those freebie tickets, and we'd all get on a prop plane for a 25-minute spin over the airport and NY harbor, including the Statue of Liberty. Can you imagine tourists getting that kind of quickie tour today? Well, technology really has changed--we can just sit at our keyboards and use Google Earth :) But the memories wouldn't be the same.

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