When I was a kid, my father would take me to CK
's restaurant at Tampa Airport for a treat some Friday evenings. It is a revolving restaurant on top of the Airport Marriott, and is connected directly to the landside terminal. Back in the days when Wardair served Tampa, the parking garage wasn't as high as it is now, and you could literally see all of the airsides radiating out from the central landside building. I just loved eating the early bird special (roast duck), and looking out at all of the planes (Eastern, National, Piedmont, TWA, PanAm, and Braniff to name a few that aren't around any more)
In the evening, the biggest and most exciting plane for me to spot was the Wardair 747 from Toronto YYZ
. How I dreamed of getting on one of those mighty birds!
After dinner one evening, we went down to the ticket counters and I gathered up the latest timetables for my collection. I begged my dad to take me out to airside D where the Wardair plane was parked, and he agreed, even though it was getting late.
We rode the train out to the airside (in those days, you didn't need a ticket to get through security), and I excitedly headed right for the gate.
My father went right up to the gate agent and told her what an airplane freak I was and how I had always dreamed of being on a 747. He asked if they would take me on to show me around, and to our surprise, she said yes!
The visit was brief. I still remember the walk out to the end of the jetway and entering the front cabin. It was so awesome how the forward cabin tapered at the nose! I remember there weren't any first class seats-all economy-and each seat had a different color of the rainbow. Looking towards the back of the plane, it seemed as if it went on forever! Although I wanted to go upstairs, they wouldn't let me because it was being cleaned. However, thanks to my dad, my first time on a 747 was with Wardair! I never flew on Wardair, but I must say that the crew was very nice to allow a non-passenger on the plane!
About 8 years later, I finally got a chance to "ride" on a 747 from IAH
-again thanks to my father's frequent flyer miles). When I walked on the plane, the memories of what my dad and Wardair did for me came back, and I still feel a bit of nostalgia every time I get on the mighty Boeing.
I miss those days at TPA
with my dad. And I wish that TPA
still had 747 service. The biggest we get these days is a BA
777 from LGW
and Fedex DC-10s to MEM
So, thanks to my father and Wardair Canada for helping to make a boy's dream come true!
View Large View Medium
Photo © Gary Watt - AirTeamImages