A Very Pleasant Surprise

As a member of Delta’s Golden Wings since I retired in Jan 2006, I had heard about and received all the correspondence about their annual reunion. But because of all the ramifications of the bankruptcy and subsequent loss of just about my entire annuity, to say that I was bitter at Delta would be a gross understatement. So, to attend a convention with nothing but older retirees, who do nothing but bleed the red, white and blue of Delta Air Lines, was the furthest thing from my mind. However, at the prodding and encouragement of one particular retiree and because the convention was in Chicago, where I have always wanted to take my wife, Marilyn, I signed up to go. As you may have gathered from the title of this article, the experience turned out to be quite different than I imagined.

From the moment we checked in and were informed that the hospitality suite was open, until we checked out to return home, the reunion was nothing but a pleasant experience. Some of the pilots that I flew with when I was a new hire, through the pilots I flew with until I made captain were in attendance. What a wonderful experience it was to see some of my acquaintances that I hadn’t seen, much less thought about for many years. We reminisced and told some old “war stories” that I had not remembered nor even thought about in many years.

The days were filled with good food, great tours and good camaraderie, even if we did have to wear those silly looking huge name tags around our necks everywhere we went. They made me feel like I was at an AARP convention.

The initial fear that I had about everyone being a “cracker” and talking about the “good ole Delta” faded quickly as I discovered that all of us suffered because of the bankruptcy, and we were all just as bitter as the next guy. When one of the Delta vice-presidents showed up at our meeting, I was surprised that he got out all in one piece. What a brave fool he was to show up at a retired pilot’s convention, since we were the only group at Delta to lose our pension. Anyway, I guess the biggest regret I have is that none of my peers attended the convention; I was the youngest retiree in attendance. But as I said, we all had a great time. I just hope that some of you younger retirees like me will change your mind and give the Delta Golden Wings a chance; you could be pleasantly surprised also.

In the last few years, we have expanded our activities to include more than just the reunions (which are very enjoyable, by the way). We now have a couple of events at Candler Field in Georgia. There is an annual Fly in-Drive in that is gaining popularity for those interested in that sort of thing, and we award an annual Ron Alexander Youth Aviation Scholarship to some deserving young person involved with aviation at the field. Also, there is the annual Christmas party in Atlanta. These other activities require no travel, hotel expense or the hassle of non-revving.  We would love to see more attendance and participation in any of these events in order that DGW will continue to be a strong vibrant organization.

Al Dvoracek, President DGW