Author Ann Hood has had nothing short of an incredible adventurous and at times heartbreaking life. Fly Girl answers in part where her incredible imagination came from.
Even at the young age of six, Hood wanted to travel to places she had always dreamed about, and not just by her family’s station wagon. She wanted to go where the trains would take her, never thinking there would ever be any other mode of transportation. Until one day when she was told to look up and couldn’t believe her eyes.
Then this incredible mode of transportation was born, called the airplane. It fascinated and excited Hood. So, when she was in High School and told her guidance counselor that she wanted to be a flight attendant and a writer she was told to think more realistically.
But in 1978 as Ann was graduating from college and her parents were expecting her to become a teacher, Hood made a bold decision. She wanted to be a flight attendant and travel and write books. In her mind not only would she be able to do two things she loved, but she could get paid for them as well. So, while all her friends were entering workforces at schools and businesses, she was applying to airlines to become a flight attendant.
Unfortunately, it was not as easy as you would imagine getting hired into the airline industry. For every one hire there were thousands of applicants. There were many interviews and hoops a person had to go through. But when it finally happened for Hood, she chose to become a TWA flight attendant. And she was ready!
After the rigorous training the attendants endured, they were prepared, willing and able to fly the friendly skies. They are much more than the person one sees serving drinks and meals and putting on a show as to where the emergency exits are and what to do in case of a crisis.
Flight attendants are therapists, problem solvers, emergency handlers and sometimes even baby deliverers. All with a smile on their face and an I know how to handle this attitude. Thus begins the truly funny, interesting sometimes heartbreaking anecdotes which Hood witnessed throughout her years of flying.
From a passenger breastfeeding their cat, yes, read that again, to a man who took such a tantrum because they had run out of lasagna that the plane had to be met at the gate by police, or the man who flew pantless because he had a job interview and didn’t want to look wrinkled. We learn of her romances some of which began high in the sky. But for every funny story, there are some which were heartbreaking. When a man boarded the plane with red eyes from crying Hood consoled him as he told her he had just lost his brother. Hood had no idea in just a few short months she would be the one being consoled on a flight for the same reason.
Of course, as one would expect there was sexism not only by the passengers but also some men who worked in the industry. Some thought flight attendants were stupid, or just waiting to meet Mr. Right. Hood to this day corrects someone when they say stewardess. They are flight attendants.
But between flights to London, Cairo, Greece, the United States and beyond, Hood wrote when she could. On the plane, going to the plane on layovers. Even when she actually sold her first book she still continued to fly, loving the freedom of air travel so much. Something she still loves to this day.
Included in the memoir is an interesting retrospective of the history of stewards flying and how certain ways things are done came to be.
Hood’s memoir is wonderfully well-written, funny, sentimental with a glamorous flair of the time period in which she flew. She explains the reason she wrote the book was because her friends would always beg her to tell stories of when she flew and always seemed riveted when she told one. I can understand why.
Thank you #NetGalley #W.W.Norton&Company #AnnHood #FlyGirl for the advanced copy.