Nation’s oldest flight attendant dies

Robert Reardon has died, the Star Tribune reports.

He was a flyboy of the first order for Northwest Airlines, although he wasn’t a pilot.

He was a flight attendant for Northwest, then Delta, until he retired — not by choice — in September 2014 after turning 90. At the time, the St. Paul man was the oldest flight attendant in the sky.

And he was good at it, said former flight attendant, Anne Kerr, who wrote the Lady Sky Writer blog.

“Once, when I had been flying for all of two weeks, our Stratocruiser had a runaway prop on takeoff out of MSP. I remember the airplane shuddering and an ear-piercing whine assaulting our ears. Bob knew right away what it was, even before the flight deck got on the horn.

He jumped up and was down the aisle in a flash – pulling pillows from the overhead racks and throwing them on passengers laps as he instructed them in the ‘crash position.’ He evacuated the forward compartment where a propeller would likely pierce the fuselage if it came off. I froze. He told me to sit down.

After the flight crew brought us safely back to terra firma we went to the Parker House and drank scotch out of coffee cups while waiting for another aircraft. The flight crew was at the airport filling out reams of paperwork as we relaxed and gathered our wits. Bob took that opportunity to debrief us on emergency procedures for runaway propellers. I was impressed.”

In his later years, he only worked the first-class cabin. “As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a cabin past that curtain!” he once joked to a friend.

“The thing that always impressed me was his courage,” Reardon’s youngest sister, Bernadette Reardon, tells the Star Tribune. “He was just a farm kid from Waverly, and he saw the world.”