A native Californian, I grew up in Ventura, a small seaside town, 60 miles north of Los Angeles. Airplanes have always been part of my life. My parents had a small private plane we flew to Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland. Growing up in Ventura during the 50's and 60's was the all-American dream. Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, surf city it really did happen. In high school our biggest concern was getting a great tan. My high school, Buena, was one of the best. I'm still good friends with many of my high school classmates who themselves are success stories.
Graduating high school in 1965, times were changing, fast. College? Sitting on my mothers coffee table was a copy of Readers Digest which had an article about SJSU - #1 party school, coeds all riding on the back of motorcycles. Cool! So with my parents blessings I headed north on highway 101, my worldly possessions packed in my flashy 1965 Chevy Impala (burgundy). I never looked back. And my life was never the same. San Jose State, like all colleges was part of the Viet Nam protest. Riots, national guard, parades, pot, psychedelic music, Beatles, Santana, Jefferson Airplane. I shared a hugh house with 10 lively co-ed's. The Doobie Brothers lived next door (ok, noisy hippies not yet discovered). My color coordinated fashions gave way to long hair, wire rim glasses and flowered jeans. I never quite cut the "hippy" scene, as one who insisted on ironing my jeans. 1969, having somehow acquired the number of units to graduate, one of my roommates saw this ad: See the World, be a TWA Flight Attendant. Ok, so I didn't have any great plans for my degree in Anthropology - Jumbo Jets? .....TWA, why not!
As luck would have it, my first domicile was San Francisco. Back to familiar territory. It didn't take long for me to move up to Lake Tahoe and buy my first home. Winters were devoted to my true obsession, skiing. Summers I juggled my flying career with softball, water skiing, bike riding and all round playing. Life was perfect. 1979 I had an idea, my girlfriends and I were considered "hot" free style skiers, so why not find a company who needed a promotional ski team. I approached Coppertone and they said yes. 1979 - 1981 we toured the US in a 32 foot motorhome affectionately called the Sun Tan Van. Within months we were the #1 promotional ski team. Pro races, celebrity events - you name it, we were there. And for me all with TWA's blessings. I simply requested time off, showered the office with some suntan lotion, and I was on my way.
As the Coppertone tour ended, so did San Francisco as a large base. Downsizing, and not wanting to be on reserve, I transferred to New York International. Commuting from Lake Tahoe, flying all around Europe, Africa and India, life was really good. Besides all of the crazies with TWA were on International. 1985 I married Don Lounibos, and together we enjoyed all of the international travel TWA offered.
March 1986 Carl Icahn owned TWA and flight attendants were forced into a strike. For me it lasted 5 years ( a little paperwork issue delayed my recall by 3 years). After I figured out the strike was going to last a very long time, I decided careers at Lake Tahoe were almost non-existent. My husband was from Petaluma, CA and we made a decision to move. Within a week after the move to Petaluma CA, I was working for a great company producing convention center public arts and crafts shows complete with stage entertainment and gourmet food, Harvest Festival was my new venture. Within 5 years I was the producer of 7 Harvest shows. About this time I won my grievance with TWA and was offered a chance to return to my flying career. I had wings again. Despite being the lowest paid flight attendants in the industry, as is the TWA spirit we all made the best of our situation, we partied on!
July 30, 1992 another life altering event occurred, TWA's flight 843, a Lockheed 1011 crashed at JFK airport. I was on that flight, having just finished 3 international crossings, I was tired and grateful to take the last seat in first class. Three minutes after rotation I found myself standing in a field with our passengers and our TWA crew (293 total) watching as our L1011 was engulfed in flames. Everone survived, we had a lot angels watching over us that day.
TWA went through many changes after the crash. We became employee owners and I was asked to be part of the restructuring team, Productivity Task Force. A true insight to how an airline operated. The flight attendants changed unions, from an independent union IFFA to what I would consider the worst of unions the IAM. From that point our careers as TWA flight attendants rapidly deteriorated.
January 2001 American Airlines announced they were going to buy TWA. American Airlines turned out to be more like the wolf in sheep's clothing than the great white knight. July 1, 2003 every TWA flight attendant was furloughed. We had lost our careers. The careers we dearly loved.
I decided to use my new freedom and enrolled with Santa Rosa Junior College to pursue a new career direction in computer sciences, graphic, web design and video production. Probably the best decision of my life. With the skills I learned, new worlds opened up. I started producing my own documentaries for our local TV station, jazz musicians, local animal shelters, water crisis aired all aired for a couple of years. I also started adding mini TWA videos my TWA websites, as well as actually getting paid to design websites for real clients. But is seemed my passion was leaning towards documentaries.
Spring 2008 I received an email from a woman who's name I was somewhat familiar with, Ruth Richter Holden. Ruth said she liked my websites, videos about TWA and was looking for someone to help her produce a documentary about her father, Paul E. Richter, TWA founder, Vice President. She told me she probably had one of the most extensive private collections of early commercial aviation history and need someone to work with and she also had an airplane to go with the collection. All I can say is her email last spring has made all the difference since.
Through Ruth the legacy of TWA survives. TWA was one of the most exciting airlines in early aviation history and we intend to share the real story.
TWA really is about to soar again.
Other TWA websites I have designed: