LIfe, Love, and a Hijacking: My Pan Am Memoir is an insightful, hilarious, sometimes seat-gripping look at the adventures of an ebullient flight attendant, who flew for the world’s most iconic airline, iconic airline, Pan Am. With the world at her fingertips, anything was possible...even the improbable. Single until age 47, Wendy’s Pan Am story of her “life of freedom” is thought provoking and peppered with celebrity, adventure, tragedy, and a lot of laughter. Life, Love, and a Highjacking just might empower you to seek your own life’s adventure.
I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and lived overseas for many of those years due to my father's job with the State Department. We flew Pan Am almost exclusively, and seeing that blue logo on the airplane tail fin always gave us a jolt of American pride and homesickness. Flying in those days was a much different experience than it is today - everyone dressed up (you never saw passengers in pajamas or dirty sweatpants), and the meal service rivaled that of a fancy restaurant. I can remember my sister and me going up a tiny spiral staircase to play in the "cocktail lounge" on 747s during overnight flights, and I fondly recall that the bathrooms were stocked with real towels, cologne and fresh flowers. We got to know quite a few Pan Am stewardesses over the years, and hardly a Christmas or Thanksgiving went by without having a stewardess or two at our table so they wouldn't be alone in a hotel during the holiday. Sometimes one of them would bring us things we missed from home - current newspapers, celery, peanut butter, and once some asthma inhalers that were out of stock at the Embassy health unit. I remember that even in their free time they were always well dressed, lady-like and were ambassadors for Pan Am.
I was very sad when Pan Am went bankrupt, and I compare modern airlines (unfavorably) with Pan Am every time I fly. Gone are the days when passengers were treated like valued guests, meal service is gone altogether on most flights, and gone too are most of the friendly, professional and crisply dressed flight attendants. I'm sad that none of my kids were ever taken into a cockpit to meet the captain (during the flight!) and given a set of wings to pin on their shirt.
Wendy Sue Knecht has written a wonderful, entertaining book about her years as a Pan Am stewardess, and I enjoyed it more than I can say. I loved the glimpse she gave me of "the other side of the story" of those elegant, well dressed ladies who served us on board our flights. She added just the right amount of humor, celebrity stories, insider knowledge and anecdotes to keep me up late turning pages until I finished the book.
Some of her memories are sad and sobering. She had personally trained the Indian stewardesses who were hijacked on Pan Am 73 in Karachi, Pakistan in 1986 - an event that left a hundred people wounded and 20 dead. She was also friends with many of the crew on board Pan Am 103, which was blown up over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988, killing 259 on board and 11 people on the ground. Even after these horrible tragedies, she continued to fly for Pan Am, and later for Delta Airlines.
If you like reading memoirs, are old enough to remember Pan Am, or just enjoy a well written book, you will love this one.
I received a complimentary copy of Life, Love and a Hijacking directly from the author. I wasn't asked to leave a positive review, and I wasn't otherwise compensated. My honest opinion is that this sincere, entertaining and well written memoir is worthy of five stars.