Model Child

By Michael Gordon

November 2016

Boeing has always been part of my family. I was born in 1951 and grew up in Germany and Asia (Japan and the Philippines).

I still remember as a child climbing aboard a Pan Am Model 377 Stratocruiser in the '50s with my sister and parents on flights between Berlin and Los Angeles to visit my grandparents for the holidays. If I remember correctly, we had to stop in London and Winnipeg before reaching Los Angeles. Shortly after taking off from London, my parents would always throw my sister and me into the overhead bunks, before they moved to the bar in the lower cabin. For those not familiar with the Model 377, it like the 747 -- it had two decks.

My family moved to Hamburg in the mid '50s. We continued to climb aboard the Pan Am Model 377 but eventually graduated to Pan Am's Boeing 707s for our trip home to Los Angeles. I still have pictures of my sister and me boarding the inaugural Pan Am 707 flight out of Hamburg to Los Angeles. We still had to stop in London, and occasionally if the headwinds were too strong, stop for fuel in Winnipeg before reaching Los Angeles.

In the mid '60s we moved to Japan and continued flying Pan Am's 707s between Tokyo and Los Angeles.

In 1971 my parents moved to Manila while I was in college in San Diego. Flying home during the holidays, I would still jump aboard Pan Am's flights between Los Angeles and Manila, which initially used both the new 747 and 707s. I still remember flying home solo for the first time. It was memorable because the first leg of my trip was in a 747. Like everyone else at the time, I could not get over how huge the 747 was. The size of the 747 was only reinforced as we approached the gate in Honolulu. There on the left-hand side of the plane (I had a window seat), was the Pan Am 707 that would take me on to my destination in Manila. It looked like a tinker toy next to the 747.

By the time I graduated from college in 1974, I regularly flew Pan Am's 747s three times a year between Los Angeles and Manila. With my trip in '72, it was 747s all the way, minus the stop in Guam.

I still fly Boeing aircraft whenever I can. The latest trip I took was from Dulles, outside of Washington, D.C., aboard a Qatar Air 777. I know it is kind of corny, but I have always felt safer flying a plane with the name Boeing on it.