I Grew Up On TWA
By Gary Michael Hunter
As a child in Indianapolis, I was involved in school plays and at an early age learned that TWA was referred to as the "Airline of the Stars" with its connection to Howard Hughes, his RKO motion pictures studio and his love affairs with starlets. My first trip on the "Airline of the Stars" was at age 10 on flights 79 and 78 operating with Starstream 707 aircraft from IND to LAX. Even at that young age, I knew TWA was for me and I was for TWA -- my own personal love affair had begun.
After eighth grade I moved to Huntington Beach, California, but maintained a strong link with my relatives "back home in Indiana." My mother typically was overly protective, and the only selection she would allow for my trips home were nonstop flights 411 and 412 serving LAX and IND. My family provided First Class tickets for Christmas, summer and spring vacations, and I quickly became very used to the high life when I was introduced to Royal Ambassador Service, ticket jackets, Rosenthal China and the extra special service TWA provided its "up front" passengers. Studying French in high school helped me when it came to selecting the Crepes farcie aux Fruits de mer for an appetizer, the Chateaubriand carved at my seat from the cart, and the Gateau Glace for an after dinner sweet. TWA soon had me very spoiled.
Throughout high school, I just knew I was destined to work for an airline. Upon entering junior college, I joined the Ambassadors Club and the L1011 Tri Star started operating the IND run with a most circuitous route as Flight 22 LAX-DAY, re-originating as flight 189 operating simultaneously as Flight 22 to IND and nonstop service on to LAX. I was lucky enough to live near the final approach to IND and was always on the look out for that beautiful L1011.
I did not hire on at TW immediately, but went to work for Beverly Hills Travel, the first PARS agency in LAX. Finally, the great day arrived when I was hired to work at the LAX ARSO on Shatto Street directly behind the TWA tower on Wilshire Blvd. My most memorable phone call came one day when I had a female caller who desired a First Class seat assignment on the late afternoon LAX/JFK nonstop L1011. I asked for her last name and she indicated Bergen and it indeed was Candice Bergen. I was surprised at the time to notice that my hands were trembling.
I later served many celebrities, and in my heart, mind, memory and soul, TWA shall forever remain truly the "Airline of the Stars."
Gary Michael Hunter (1979-1981) worked in LAX Reservations Sales