True travelers' tales
In 1947, my father’s company had an office in Stockholm, and when I was 5 years old he took me with him on a trip from Gothenburg to Stockholm. Our entire family, all five of my brothers and my grandparents, came to the Torslanda airport to see us off.
Everybody was wearing his Sunday best. I was wearing a brand new white beret. My grandmother tapped me on the beret and told me it was completely safe to fly. But I could tell she was nervous by the sweat marks her hands left on the beret.
I was the only daughter and the first of my siblings who got to fly on an airplane. The next time I was at the Torslanda airport was two years later when it was my turn to wave goodbye when my younger brother flew to Vienna with our father.
When my teacher asked if anybody in my class had been on an airplane, my hand was the only one that went up. It was big deal back then. A few years later, my father gave his parents an SAS flight to Stockholm as a present.
- Harriet Williams
Helene Marie Holm Hartvedt, or just Nan among friends, worked at SAS between 1946 and 1952, as one of the first stewardesses. One day in 1948, she worked on the flight that took Winston Churchill to Norway. (Far right in the photo).
A queen called Reidar
I have never met the Queen of Sweden, or of Denmark, or of any other earthly country. But in 1967, at the age of 8, I had a brief encounter with a Queen of the Skies.
My first impression of Reidar Viking, a DC-7C, wasn’t great. It was an old propliner, not at all like the Caravelle jet I had flown in before. But when we stepped on board, my father and I noticed the proud inscription by the door marking a world record. The plane, designated LN-MOE, had flown nonstop from its delivery in Santa Monica, California, to Stockholm on November 15, 1956, in 21 hours and 41 minutes
Inside, it was like any ordinary airliner, which was a relief to me since I had expected wooden benches. However, I was traveling at half fare, and in those days that meant half: I was offered half a seat and half a meal, which I had to share with another boy my age.
Looking out the window, I suddenly saw the outer starboard engine burst to life, its exhaust spitting flames and smoke, and the big four-bladed propeller start to move. I could feel the vibration in the hull, especially when the other three engines were started one by one.
I was totally unprepared for the sensation of four 3,400-horsepower, 18-cylinder Wright engines roaring, ready for takeoff. I trembled and tears filled my eyes. I had never even imagined a thunder like that. Slowly and majestically we left the ground and climbed at a rather relaxed pace over the fir treetops. Dad looked excited, and to distract me he told me of polar route, and how SAS had pioneered flights over the North Pole before anyone else. The 7C was the one aircraft that made it possible with its power and range, and much later I found out that the very aircraft we had been on was one of the very pioneers.
As a gimmick, Reidar Viking met its sister ship Guttorm Viking over the North Pole on February 24, 1957. Here I was, flying an undying piece of air history!
Close to 50 years later, the mighty roar of Reidar Viking’s engines is still in my ears. I have flown hundreds of thousands of miles, on many different airliners, but to me Reidar Viking will always be the true Queen of the Skies!
- Anders Krantz
A long time ago, I had been in India for about 10 days and felt a little dirty and tired when I got on the SAS DC-8 in Calcutta. I sat in a very comfortable seat when a stewardess came to me and asked me, smiling, if there was anything I wanted.
“Yes!” I said. “Can I get a glass of milk?”
I could! They had milk and it tasted so good.
Another time, I was on a late-night flight from Stockholm to Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. The crew served us a light dinner and turned off the cabin lights, as usual, but this time there was a singing stewardess on board, and she sang us lullabies. That was very nice.
- Anders Karlsson
A league of gentlemen
During the 1980s, I traveled frequently between Bergen, Norway, and Hamburg, Germany, often returning to Bergen on the last SAS flight that took off at 8pm with a layover in Copenhagen.
One time, traveling with a colleague of mine, the captain welcomed us on board the last leg of the trip with the greeting, “Good evening, gentlemen.” It turned out that every single passenger was a man, and the entire crew also consisted of men. The flight was more than half full and was an all-male flight.
I’ve never experienced anything like that again, and I probably never will.
– Terje Fossnes
Published: February 3, 2016
Last edited: March 9, 2017