She’s been through the Cold War, lived through the terms of 12 US presidents (and counting) and started flying four years before Barack Obama was born. “The pilots come and go and retire and I keep staying here the whole time,” she told CNN in an interview.
Yes you read that right, Bette Nash is 80 and still flying.Her long-standing commitment to the skies began in 1957 with Eastern Airlines, a now defunct airline after a series of mergers. Ms Nash now serves as a flight attendant with the US Airways.With 59 years of experience under her belt, Ms Nash’s memories offer a glimpse of the industry’s transformations.
Ms Nash told CNN that she used to pass around cigars and cigarettes after meals when smoking was still allowed on planes. She also used to carve up roast meat and serve cocktails, tea and food on silverware – a far cry from the simple in-flight meals we have today.Before hipsters were trending, air travel was the way to be seen. Classy, luxurious and extravagant – passengers used to dress up to the nines even on domestic shuttles.
Glamorous yes, but it was also tedious for the crew, not that Ms Nash had any complaints. She remembered how the crew had to wear white gloves all the time even when preparing and serving food.But behind that pristine image was hard work: “I would come to the airport and find out my flight. I would have to look at a chalkboard and they would chalk up morning flights, and they’d erase it and put up all the afternoon flights.”The crew also had to make their way across the runway on foot, dodging airplanes as they went.
When the CNN reporter showed Ms Nash a photo of her first batch of flight attendants, the latter didn’t mince her words: “I think they’re all dead.
You know at my age, people are usually dead.”For all her humour, Ms Nash has had a couple of close shaves herself. She told The Boston Globe that she was supposed to fly out of Washington on the day of the September 11 attacks.
She also remembered how a plane’s back door once came ajar to reveal the sky just before it landed.Ms Nash may be a senior in her field, but there’s no resting on her laurels. Every year, flight attendants are required to pass a test to stay updated on the latest flight information and skills.
Ms Nash has performed splendidly so far, and has no plans to back down just yet.”This just keeps me going,” she told Boston Globe. “I don’t have time to really stop and think, you know, what my age is. So here I am.”