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Flights of fancy

Readers' favorite memories of flying include a harrowing approach in Beijing, being seated next to a real turkey, landing a job and helping to fly the plane.

June 12, 2011
  • In this photo from 1970, an airplane on the way to LAX flies over homes in Westchester.
In this photo from 1970, an airplane on the way to LAX flies over homes in Westchester. (George R. Fry )

When the Travel section editors talked about the first aerial hijacking and began to see some of the ways airlines had changed (see graphic on opposite page), we realized most every traveler has had a memorable flight. We asked readers to share some of their memories; you can read others or submit your own at latimes.com/memories.

It was May 1984, and I was in my mid-20s. My best friend and I were making a dream trip to Beijing. Not many Westerners had been there at that time; the country was very closed to outsiders. We flew to Hong Kong on a Singapore Airlines flight, which was wonderful, but then had to catch the Civil Aviation Administration of China flight to Beijing. It was turbulent, but nothing was said over the public-address system. We were close to first class, but a drape was pulled across the door, except it was open and so was the cockpit door. There were many uniformed Chinese national guards sitting in that section. We finally broke through the clouds, and I could see the landing strip, except we were not in line with it. We got lower and lower, and I was sure we were going to crash.

Finally, the plane banked hard to the right and we climbed and went around again. I again could see that the plane wasn't lined up correctly. The plane got lower and at the last second, we banked hard to the right, climbed and went around the third time. Several uniformed men got up and entered the cockpit and replaced the pilot and copilot. We were finally lined up with the runway and landed. Nothing was ever said. To this day we have no idea what happened. Twenty-seven years later and we still laugh.

Joyce Macheca

Wickenburg, Ariz.

Across the aisle from a real turkey

When flying had fewer rules, I was on my way to San Francisco, and a woman across the aisle from me was carrying the Thanksgiving dinner's main course on her lap, on a platter and wrapped in aluminum foil. Everybody could smell the turkey! Fortunately it was a nice, smooth flight.

Marilyn Blanck

Alhambra

Remember: Always pack your résumé

I have been traveling for 50 years and have taken more than 1,000 trips, all normal and uneventful except one dating to 1975. I was flying home to Beirut from Milan, Italy, to look for a job and settle down in my home city with my wife and baby daughter. In the seat next to me was a couple from the United States. After talking for about two hours with the man, who was a vice president for a communications multinational, he offered me a super job in Beirut. That flight was the best place for an interview.

Said Dabbous

Bologna, Italy

Go ahead and take the controls

I was flying out of LAX to Cincinnati in 1961. I was 11. As we taxied, the pilot pointed out a plane to our right that had bullet holes in it. He said it had just returned from being hijacked to Cuba. During my flight I asked to be let into the cockpit. They obliged. I was allowed to push the thrusters and see the plane's speed accelerate. I was also asked by another man to twist a dial and lower the cabin temperature. Those were the days.

Ben Kaufman

Stevenson Ranch

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