My first flight with ONA
by Joyce Olson Mathews
To my fellow crew members, here is a short
story I authored about my first flight on
ONA. Hope you enjoy reading it.
It was my first flight after graduation from
Flight Attendant training.
I was nervous but the senior flight attendant
introduced me to the cabin crew and I began
to feel better. After that, I was taken to
the cockpit to meet the captain, co-pilot,
and flight engineer.
We took off from JFK on a stretch DC-8
chartered by 258 passengers heading to
Once we reached our cruising altitude of
30,000 feet, the captain turned off the seat
belt sign and the seven flight attendants,
which included me, began the in-flight service.
I was assigned to the forward galley with
two other flight attendants; the other four
were stationed in the aft galley.
There were two liquor carts (one from the
forward galley and one from the aft galley)
that were stocked with ice, plastic cups,
swizzle sticks, cans of soda and juices,
condiments, and hundreds of miniature
bottles of liquor.
The flight attendants, from each galley,
wheeled the carts to the middle of cabin
and then worked their way fore and aft.
The process was repeated so that everyone
would be served at least two soft drinks
or cocktails before the meal service began.
As a new flight attendant, I was the
delegated small-job person. If a passenger
pulled their call button, wanted a pillow
or desired a cup of tea I would respond
with a smile.
If the carts needed more ice or the
lavatory was out of toilet paper, I would
remedy the situation.
Then, without warning, came an assignment
that took my breath away. The head flight
attendant instructed me to go the cockpit
and report to the captain. She said that
the he had called and needed something
from the cabin right away. She explained
that the other flight attendants were busy
with the liquor carts and the meal service.
I was the only person available to handle
this most important request.
I went straight to the cockpit, earnest and
ready for any task.
As I entered the flight deck, the captain
turned to me and said, “I need box of steam
and I’m going to need it pretty soon.”
“Okay, Captain. I’ll be right back,”
ONA PASSENGER MEAL
I left cockpit and went straight to the
head flight attendant who was in the middle
of serving meals. I felt like a little girl
tugging on her mother’s apron as I sheepishly
and quietly whispered to her, “The Captain
told me to get him a box of steam.”
Without looking up or missing a beat, she
replied, “find out what kind of steam he
I headed back to the cockpit. “Captain,
what kind of steam do you need?” I asked.
“Find out what kind of steam she has left
and then report back to me,” said the captain.
Again, I tracked down the head flight
attendant. Now she was in the aft galley
rotating the meals in the ovens so they would
cook more evenly.
“Tell him that I have a blue box of steam and
a red box of steam but that I’m out of the
green boxes of steam,” she shot back as she
moved about the galley.
This was clearly not a good time to ask her
Back to the cockpit I go to explain the choices
to the captain.
“A blue box of steam will do,” he quickly
At this point I asked another experienced
flight attendant where I could find a blue
box of steam.
“A blue box of steam, what blue box of steam?!”
she shouted. “Go back to the cockpit and tell
the captian that we only carry purple boxes of
steam on the stretch DC’8s.”
With some anxiety, I entered the cockpit once
again. The captain seemed to take the news
in stride and simply said, “Oh, never mind,
I don’t need it anymore.”
Several hours later, after we landed and the
passengers deplaned, we were all on the crew
bus headed to the hotel.
During this time, the flight attendants shared
stories with the pilots about the flight and
The captain turned to me and asked, “So Joyce,
how do YOU think things went on our flight?”
With all eyes on me, I blushed and apologized
profusely for not being able get the requested
box of steam.
My sincere apology was followed by raucous
laughter and congratulations for completing
my in-flight initiation. It was not until
that moment that I realized I had been
taken-in by one of the oldest tricks in the
Five years later…………….
We are on a DC-10 with a cabin crew of twelve
flight attendants. I am now the head flight
attendant. The galleys are below the passenger
deck and the crew is spread out between the
front section, the aft section, and the galley
below. Elevators are used to transport the
liquor carts and meal carts to the cabin for
the in-flight service.
A new flight attendant is on board.
It’s her first flight after graduation from
Flight Attendant training. She spends most
of the flight taking the elevators up and down,
fetching things for passengers and trying
to find a box of steam for the captain.
Joyce Olson Mathews
Flight Attendant 1972-1978,
Overseas National Airways
Betsy and Joyce Olson in front galley
of stretch DC8 getting ready for cabin
service. Joyce is pre-pouring glasses of
HOTEL CONRAD, CAIRO EGYPT
1974: Charleston layover
Middleton Gardens in May.
Jan. 1974: Hadj pilgrims boarding
plane in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for
return flight to Tehran.
Dec. 1973 Tunis, Tunisia
Photo taken at the Pepper Market.
Joyce flew as a Flight Attendant 1972-1977
1972: Joyce Olson on tarmack at
International Air Base in New York.
Crew members´ names
to be added
Pam Baughman and Joyce Olson
Joyce Olson and Donney Wiley
Malaga Layover (August 1974).
L - R: Gwen Pinkard, Joyce Olson,
Adi Vergeiner, and Cindie Burnham.
L - R: Kathy Robinson, Charlie Mott,
"The Crack of Dawn" in Malaga, Spain.
Saving flight 1549
Sailing on the Red Sea off the
coast of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Flight attendants on layover in Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia meet Omar Shariff.
Omar came to our aid while trying to find
the souk. We wanted to have thaoubs made
On the right is photo of Omar in London in
On the bottom left is Omar in traditional
Top Left Photo: L-R: Joyce Olson,
Omar, Hilda Austin, Carol Freiman
JOYCE OLSON MATHEWS
Cockpit Crew and Cabin Crew at
I.A.B. in New York waiting for
transportation to ONA
headquarters in Jamaica NY.
Dubrovnik Airport October 1975
L-R: Sharon Eichler (back turned
to camera); Annette Elmo,
Joyce Olson, Kathy DiMarco, and ?
ONA was all first class!
Last Day of Troop Withdrawal!
Photo was taken at Danang Airport,
L - R: Joyce Olson, Lowie Brannan,
Denise DiAmicias, and Pet Kempson.
Captain John Truman lets me pose
for a photo in the inboard engine
of stretch DC8.
Photo was taken at Danang Airport in
March 1973. It's sweltering hot and
humid! I think this was taken on the
last day of troop withdrawal so we were
on the ground for awhile.
Dec. 1973: Tunis, Tunisia
Photo taken at the Camel Market.
Dec. 1973: Hadj Cabin Crew
ONA flight attendants pose
with Zughar (steward from Tunis
Air) who flew with us as an
interpreter for the passengers.
Dec. 1973 TUNIS Layover
Mohammed selling jasmine flowers
to flight attendants
and Carol Freeman
Jan. 1974: Hadj pilgrims on return
flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to
Mario Sotolongo on Electras
YPSILANTI AP MICHIGAN