Captured! The Embarrassing Photo of Me on My First Flight Ever

I had big plans for this holiday Monday off to get one of the four amenity kits several generous readers sent me reviewed, but alas… the sun isn’t cooperating here in Northern Nevada to capture decent pictures of the next kit in line for a review.

I’ve instead decided to embarrass myself and post a picture of me on my first flight ever that I recently scanned from my parent’s photo album. The year was 1982 and I was nine years old heading from Chicago to Phoenix with my family at Easter time for a visit with relatives.

I distinctly remember barely being able to sleep the night before out of excitement. We flew American Airlines that day on a 727 and my grandmother who lived with us was in a wheelchair, so we got the first two rows of coach – she’s pictured below in the bulkhead window seat with my Mom next to her, while my brother and I (why the hell did he get the window seat?) were behind them as my Dad took the picture.

a group of people sitting in an airplane

Darren and Family on an American 727 in 1982

Firstly, let me acknowledge I was indeed wearing a bolo tie and a cowboy hat with a ridiculous feather attached. But also notice I had “wings†pinned on my shirt, so I must have visited the cockpit (I completely don’t remember that, or the flight attendants gave me one anyway). And I wasn’t buck-toothed, so I have no idea why I’m smiling like that.

My Mom and brother will hate me for posting this, but ah heck… it’s a piece of memorabilia and it might be interesting for others to see how American’s cabins looked in the early 1980s. Those red seats are atrocious in retrospect and the headrest covers look disgusting, but that could just be the photo quality at the time (and my scan).

Most memorable for me, however, was our trip back. We flew a DC-10 and it instantly became my favorite aircraft at the time. It remains my second most favorite airliner after the 747. There were no photos of us on the way home, sadly.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

[And thanks to Jonathan (aka @Runway1R), who got me nostalgic today thinking about just what got me into loving airlines and aviation with his blog post.]

Related posts:

Vintage Airline Seat Map: American Airlines Boeing 727-200

Vintage Airline Seat Map: American Airlines DC-10

Just In: Woman Breaks Into United Airlines Headquarters in Chicago

– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.


  1. Those seats! And I can’t tell if it’s the quality of the picture or the walls are actually that metallic gray. Either way, that interior as a whole is pretty ugly.

  2. @Jonathan: I think the wall treatments were indeed patterned, but not as gray as they appear in the pic.
    @aadvantagegeek: 🙂 Who would’ve thought American had red/orange seats back then?!

  3. Love your remark about your brother getting the window seat! He looks older, so I guess he was entitled to first dibs!
    One of the first times I flew with my younger sister was on a United flight to OGG. We flew PHL-LAX-OGG in first class (my Father’s miles). Of course she wanted the window seat. Being the clever older brother, I told her I’d take the window seat between PHL and LAX but generously let her have it between LAX and OGG. Of course she didn’t realize she was being cheated, since there is no view on the flight to OGG! haha

  4. Thanks for the pic of your first flight. If you were smiling for some unknown reason, your brother is tight lipped. What does he have to say?

  5. The walls were patterned brown, iirc. A more dramatic version of what you see on some un-refurbished 757s today.

    Great picture!

    Since this was 1982, I presume you earned points. 😉

  6. I like the way you are rocking the cowboy hats and the AA junior wings.

    Brings back great memories of flying at that time when I was about the same age as you – 12 yrs old in ’82.

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