Boeing

A Driving Force

By Michele J. Fay-Lonsdale

July 2015

Parents Ruth Allison Fay and Gerald “Jerry” Fay, in their Pan Am uniforms on the steps of a Pan Am jet.

COURTESY OF MICHELE J. FAY-LONSDALE

I've been in motorcades, I've had ambassadors and CEOs of airlines in my Boeing van or limousine. I carry pictures of my mom and dad with me, because I get a lot of flight crews from around the world. Sometimes they ask me questions, so I explain that driving for Boeing is a perfect fit for me because I grew up in aviation -- my dad was a pilot and my mom was a stewardess, both for Pan Am. And I just so happen to have a picture. So I share the picture of my parents, and there's a lot of emotion. I had one guy go, "I want to go back in time, hit your dad over the head with a frying pan and whisk your mom away."

I grew up at Boeing Field and Paine Field, near Seattle, because in the 1960s my dad bought a twin-engine Beechcraft from Howard Hughes. We'd drive to Paine Field and there weren't any freeways then, so you'd go Highway 99. It would take forever. I was probably 8 years old. I remember the tower -- it was this white building, it was on top of the restaurant. So when I started working for Boeing and I'm driving along that Airport Road, it just was like a memory, like, Oh my gosh, I know where I am. And that same tower and old restaurant is still there.

The first flight of the 787, I transported the captain's family. I picked them up at home, took them up to Everett, watched the 787 take off. When the president of China came here, I was in the motorcade and I had their advance team. I was assigned to them for two days.

My niece and her husband are diplomats with the State Department and they were posted in Angola when it got its first 777. I transported the Angolan ambassador to Everett, Wash., for the delivery, and my niece was at the other end waiting when the plane landed, because they had this huge celebration in Angola. So it was just -- small world.

I go to work every day thankful and blessed, because of what I get to be around, what I get to see. I mean, we keep these vehicles right across the street from the No. 1 747 at the Museum of Flight. It pulls on my heartstrings because of my history. The Boeing Company started four years before my dad was born. I often wonder what Dad would be thinking now. And Mom -- Mom's birthday was July 8. That was the day of the rollout of the 787.

I think aviation is going to go places that somebody knows about right now, but we don't. We've got brilliant people working at this company. There's so much passion and pride.