Bravery Rewarded

For today’s Memory Monday, I would like to share a story I was recently told by my grandfather…

In early October 1960, my grandfather was in New York for business. During his stay, a propeller driven airplane traveling from Boston to Philadelphia crashed and 62 people tragically lost their lives.

The plane flew into the path of a flock of birds and hundreds of birds were sucked into the engines. The accident became one of the worst in airline history and struck fear into the minds of many future airline travelers.

My grandfather was scheduled to fly home the next day and his flight was to take place using the exact same propeller driven Lockheed L-188 Electra style plane that was used in the Boston crash.

Understandably, he was nervous and wasn’t sure if he should board the plane to go home. After all, planes fly by birds all the time and there was mass media questions wondering if this same thing could happen again.

Even greater than his fear of taking the flight, was my grandfather’s desire to get home to be with his wife and kids. He had been away from them for a week and utterly wanted to be home so they would not worry about him.

After hearing reassurance from the airline that they were taking every precaution necessary, he decided that it was worth taking this risk, so he decided to take the flight home.

This prop jet style plane was built to hold 70 people. When my grandfather boarded the plane, he was one of only 7 people who decided to make the flight.

Seeing the empty plane he started to question his decision. But once again he decided that taking this flight home was worth the risk and he was not turning back.

At that time, it was common for the flight attendants to pass out a complimentary glass of champagne to the passengers. Because this particular flight was so unoccupied (and probably to ease everyone’s apprehension), each of the 7 passengers were given their own bottle of champagne to enjoy on the flight.

Just like all the other flights he had taken, he made it home safe. But that flight remains the only time that he was given an entire bottle of champagne during all his years of air travel.

My grandfather speaks fondly of this gesture and considered the champagne to be a fun reward for being among the brave few that decided to take the flight home.

I think this is a fun anecdote of how bravery can be rewarded.

Sometimes we are rewarded with champagne. Sometimes we are rewarded with getting to see our family. And when we are really lucky we get both.

No matter what reward we may receive, it is important to know that risks can pay off, and sometimes we should board that plane. Even if we are only 1 of 7 people.

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