Back in the late 1950's most of us (if we were alive) dreamed of air travel, but few of us took a ride on a Connie, or a DC-6, and even fewer on one of the newest jets, like the B707.
My father in law, Clayton M.Doering, was a Vice President of TRW, Automotive. He flew to Europe, Asia and South America in the early days, reaching the lofty achievement of 100,000 miles in flight by 1959. That's four earth circling flights, as the plaque shows.
He was awarded this substantial; plaque, lifetime membership in the Red Carpet Club, First Class seats whenever he flew, and in those days of pleasurable air travel, recognition as one of United's most valuable fliers. In the days before deregulation and loyalty programs, his achievement was more real, more substantial and more grueling. First Class was in the rear of the plane, everyone got a huge seat,His was unusual: TRW bought him two First Class seats, one empty beside him so he could work continually on the flight and nit be distracted. When we arrived he was met by a driver and expected to begin work immediately at a plant, or plant site.
Clayton Doering was part of the Manhattan Project in the Second World War, though he never spoke about that until his death. He was the son of a butcher, a self-made man, and engineer, and the father of my lovely wife.
Irascible at times, generous at other times, he was a great man with a long list of achievements. Among them was this reward from United Airlines and others from Pan Am, which I'll dig through the archives and see if I can find.
But in those halcyon days, flying was special, loyalty was rewarded in differing ways, an flying was an adventure to savor, not dread.