In 1965 was lucky enough and had enough seniority to bid for a first officer position at
Pan Am. I became a first officer on the DC8 in 1965 and later moved over to the Boeing
707 when Pan Am sold the DC8. One interesting sidelight on the “8” was the fact that Pan Am bought 18 DC8 aircraft and sold 18 DC8 aircraft, the only airplane in the history of the company to achieve that record.
One of my favorite flights in that era was New York to Rome. It was a 3-day trip, with a
24-hour layover in Rome. I really liked the food and the general atmosphere in that wonderful city; additionally it arrived back in New York in the early afternoon so I didn’t have to fight the traffic driving back to my home.
On this particular flight I was flying as a first officer for Captain “Portlock” Wilson, a good old boy from Georgia who was an excellent pilot and made flying as enjoyable as possible, and kept a very stress free cockpit.
That day was the end of the Vatican ecumenical council and we were bringing back a
full 707 of Cardinals and Bishops, more red rings than I have ever seen in my life. As we boarded the aircraft one of the Cardinals approached Portlock and said, “Captain, I
sure hope we have a nice flight.” Portlock looked at the Cardinal and said “If we don’t you all sure are in the wrong business.” We had a great flight back to New York.