The club where air hostesses trade their secrets
LEAVING the jobs and friends they loved was often not easy for the glamorous air hostesses of Trans Australia Airlines, so they came up with a solution.
Wings Away, an organisation of former air hostesses and flight attendants of TAA, Australian Airlines and Qantas, was officially formed in 1966 and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The organisation's social occasions are also fundraisers for physically and mentally disadvantaged children in Australia.
Wings Away has raised more than $1.3 million to date for organisations such as Noah's Ark Resource Centre and Toy Library, the Sunshine Coast Children's Therapy Centre, the Arundel Riding School for Disabled Children, and the National Council on Intellectual Disability.
"We've always supported charities that don't get a lot of recognition or capital support. Quite often, they are lesser known ones that don't get the support."
Mrs Mosely said the organisation was open to former air hostesses and flight attendants of the named airlines of any age who all shared a special bond.
Whether they worked alone on a DC3 in the outback or joined with others to serve on the biggest jets, they knew what it was like to be part of an exclusive club that got to wear the airline uniform, to be a celebrated arrival in town.
"It was just a different sort of life. You never knew what was going to happen," Mrs Mosely said.
Members relive old times and catch up on news at monthly meetings and lunches but several activities have been added to this year's calendar for Wings Away's 50th anniversary.
A coach trip to Noosa, a coach trip and lunch at a Mt Tamborine winery, a cocktail party and a boat trip in Brisbane, and a gala dinner on the rooftop at the Rydges Hotel are all planned for August.
WHEN Joy Allardyce moved into a house with 11 other women to train to become an air hostess, it was the beginning of friendships that would endure for more than 60 years.
"We all lived together while we were studying and training and it was a really good time for us, and we're still friends after all these years," Joy said.
Joy, now 86 and living at Cranley, left her job as a private secretary to work as an air hostess for TAA from 1952 to 1955.
"I saw an advertisement in the paper and thought, 'That sounds really good.' I didn't think I'd get it but I did."
Based in Brisbane, Joy would find herself flying the coastal route from Brisbane to Cairns, stopping at Maryborough, Rockhampton, Mackay, Proserpine, Ayr, Townsville and Innisfail, and back the next day.
Sometimes she would stop in Townsville and work the western route for six weeks, out to Charters Towers, Hughenden, Winton, Julia Creek and Mount Isa.
And then there was the Darwin run, stopping at Chinchilla, Longreach, Camooweal, Tenant Creek, Katherine and Daly Waters on the way.
"As TAA said to us, we were the faces of TAA, therefore we always had to be smiling and jubilant. It was being a hostess, although it was strenuous work as well."
SUE Carey had seen photographs of the TAA air hostesses and thought it was the life for her.
"I was teaching at the time and felt I just wanted to do something else a little bit more exciting.
"I applied to TAA. I liked the lovely white uniform.
"You always felt really lovely when you put your uniform on. You felt a little bit different, a little bit glamorous."
Sue, who now lives in Toowoomba, was an air hostess from 1969 to 1970 and loved the social side of the job.
"If it was a long flight, instead of sitting down the back, you'd get up and catch the eye of someone and start up a conversation," she said.
"The most memorable flight for me was going from Sydney to Perth. We were serving fresh salads for lunch. We stopped in Adelaide and they loaded on these beautiful fresh crayfish from Adelaide and New Zealand strawberries which were being served in a salad with roast chicken."
Sue dutifully asked each passenger if they would like roast chicken and salad with fresh New Zealand strawberries for lunch, and they all jumped at the offering before even hearing of the crayfish meals.
"When it was all over, we all hopped in and had the crayfish," she said.
LIFE became an adventure for Josie Sawers when she joined TAA.
Josie spent five years as a TAA air hostess from 1970 to 1975, including six months in Papua New Guinea.
"My father was there during the war. I'd heard about it and it just sounded like something that would be different from living in Sydney and flying around in different cities," she said.
"It was an adventure in those days. You'd be the only hostie on the plane and there'd be all these natives on board and these different people, going to the different cities.
Josie remembers her flying days with fondness because air travel was a real occasion then, and customers and airline staff treated each other with mutual respect.
"Everybody got dressed up. Everybody was nice. Everybody was nice to you and you were nice to them. They were your guests."
LORI Freeman was being fitted for her TAA air hostess uniform when the fitter, noticing the length of her hem to the floor was unusual, queried her height.
"Five foot four," she said.
"I don't think so," he replied.
It did not matter that Lori's estimate had been under the minimum height limit for the job - she was already in.
From 1965 to 1968, she flew to parts of Australia that she would otherwise never have seen - Cairns, Mount Isa, Darwin, Katherine, Tenant Creek, Doomadgee, Mornington Island, missions in the Gulf...
"If it was bad weather, we'd have to drop the Royal Mail out of the bottom of the aircraft on the ground below," she said.
"The stockmen would come out in their spunky clothes, the school children would be there with the teacher.
"We'd drop the mail on to the west track and they'd all go scrambling around because we'd also drop bags of Minties.
"It was such an exciting time."
Lori left when she married only because that was the rule but said it was not unheard of for some women to keep their weddings secret.