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tmb class of 1969Continuing the story by Yvonne Peel started in NetLetter #1381.

Let's start at the beginning. I can't believe I am finally here!

The departure of my first ever flight as an Air Canada stewardess has finally arrived! The DC-8 is our most prestigious and powerful aircraft, able to fly non-stop to Europe.

The well-rehearsed preparations before the boarding of our passengers are in full swing. We must ensure the emergency and safety equipment is on board and checked in case of need. All the food trolleys, drink units and supplies are in the appropriate sections of the different galleys with blankets, pillows and newspapers in their approved stowage.

We have already been allocated our working position at our pre-flight briefing, so we know exactly what part of the aircraft we will be responsible for, where our emergency positions are and more importantly where our emergency equipment is.

I am nervous, but also elated to think I am finally here, ready to start what will be the beginning of a 31-year career, having first thought I would only stay in Canada for one year!

As there is no seat selection, it is total chaos as passengers run on board to ensure they get the best seats.

Finally, it is time to close the doors, leave the gate and taxi to the end of the runway. I have checked and re-checked the safety features of my door, making sure my emergency chute is attached, that no luggage in the overhead bin is about to fall onto a passenger, that there is nothing blocking the aisle, that all the galley doors and trolleys are secured and in their locked position.

I glance down the aisle, all my passengers are sitting down and safely in their seats with their seatbelts fastened. I now make sure that I am securely strapped in my crew seat. I shall never forget, rear crew seat, left side! The aircraft turns, aligning itself with the runway lights.

The roar of the engines of the DC-8 revving up is deafening, suddenly the brakes are released and we are hurtling down the runway. My body is pinned against the crew seat with such force that it would be impossible to get up and suddenly before I realize it, the sound of the engines has changed and we are airborne!

Goodness, the sensation is one I have never encountered before, nothing has ever come as close to this wonderful feeling of freedom. The smile on my face must have been radiant! I've made it!

It is July 1969 and finally after years of dreaming, planning, wishing and hoping, my dream has finally become reality and I am a stewardess! I am so proud and happy! Also, being fully bi-lingual was a huge advantage.

I had tried to become a stewardess in England but was told by BOAC (Better On A Camel) that I was not mature enough and to go out into the world, and come back later and re-apply.

Yvonne Peel

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