Northwest Orient Flight Number One

Many years ago when I worked for TelePrompTer in New York City, I was flying from Buffalo to Chicago with a four hour layover at what they then called Idlewild Airport. I arrived in New York early and dearly wanted to get back to Chicago for a home visit. At the United counter I asked if they had an earlier flight. No, but Northwest Orient did and I could just make it… barely. She called and yes they did have a seat. United switched my ticket to Northwest. You could do that in those days.

I raced to the Northwest terminal and as I ran up to the counter the ticket agent said, “Mr. Padar?”


“Through that door!” she waved at a group of doors to my right. There was no time for questions… the flight was departing right now! I ran down a short hallway and found myself on the tarmac. A Northwest plane was waiting. I ran across the apron and dashed up the stairs.

“Take a seat,” said the stewardess as she was closing the cabin door behind me.

There were many empty seats and after stowing my luggage I settled into one by the window. I was breathing hard but I was so happy to be getting back to my home town four hours earlier.

We taxied and then we stopped and then we taxied some more. After about 20 minutes we reached the active runway and we roared into the sky. The plane was climbing rapidly when the pilot came on:

“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome aboard Northwest Orient Flight Number One bound for Tokyo Japan…”

It is amazing how fast your brain can race in a crisis. I don’t have a passport! I can’t pay for it! It’s their fault, they’ll have to pay! My family is expecting me in Chicago tonight and I will be 17 hours in the air! Why didn’t they check my ticket? Will they turn around and bring me back to the airport?

The pilot finished his announcement, “…with intermediate stops in Chicago and Seattle.”


4 Comments on “Northwest Orient Flight Number One”

  1. Bill says:

    Hi Jim

    I remember several things about this blog. When I first met you told me you worked for TelePromter, I worked at ABC TV in Chicago just before I went to MOT and we used TP which at that time was primitive compared to today’s technology. You told me you lived in Cherry Point NJ and was at JFK’s inauguration when, I think there was a problem with the TP but I’m not sure. I think you said you would travel for TP resolving problems. Wonder if my long term memory is accurate? Was Flight 1 a 707?


    • jimpadar says:

      You are pretty close… I originally lived in NYC and after a couple of years was transferred to Cherry Hill NJ. Wasn’t me at JFK’s inauguration, but there is a New York City JFK story that will appear on this blog at some point. I did travel for TPT from time to time. I do not recall the type of plane, but I do remember the flight number: Northwest Orient Flight Number One!

  2. Mike P. says:

    Jim, I loved this story. Reminds me of “how it was” in the airline biz.
    I worked for Northwest Orient at Chicago Midway the summer of 1959 before going to United. That was B.J. (before jets). At that time flight # 001 was a DC7C originating at Idlewild, enroute to MDW, SEA (Seattle), ANK (Ankorage),TYO (Tokyo).
    Mike P.
    P.S. You did a great job with this web site!

  3. Juan says:

    HAHAHAHA !!!! That was great! I can just picture your face when that came over from the pilot !! Good Story !!

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