SHARON AND RON ADAM
To my ONA colleagues
My happy years at ONA
Among my fondest memories are happy times and
camaraderie of working for ONA as a Ground
Services Manager, a “rep”, starting at JFK,
and including time based at Frankfurt, Malaga
and Jeddah in addition to rep’ing flights
through a lot of other places. Those days of
being on the road 25 days or so a month, or
being stationed for a month or more at places
like Jeddah, Dacca, Karachi or Tel Aviv, were
long ago, but reading the ONA web site, which
I recently came across, brought back many
What I remember best are all the great folks I
had the pleasure to work with, along with getting
together in places like Torremolinos, or Rome, or
Wiesbaden, or in many other cities, going out with
the crew for dinner at some great place and everyone
having a fun time. I wonder if airline staff and
crew members today have the team spirit and
enjoyment we ONA’ers had, flying and staying in
so many different places all over the globe!
Everyone meeting downstairs in the lobby to go out
to dinner and enjoy each other’s company! We were
all young and ready for adventure and camaraderie!
Good old days!
I started with ONA in the old charter terminal at
JFK, working flights there and through out the
East Coast. Late in the summer, I got sent to
Frankfurt to help out for a few weeks. As I walked
off the plane, Helmut Jaeger introduced himself
and said we were catching a flight to Athens the
next morning! I was there for more then two weeks.
At that time, ONA paid ground staff $16 in per
diem, good money in those days. I got a nice room
for about $3.50 a night and rented a Spitfire
convertible! What a blast! The hotel was right
near a runway and the old Athens airport terminal,
and in certain wind directions, planes flew almost
directly above the hotel on landing. The first
time it happened, I fell out of bed thinking a
plane was crashing into the hotel! It soon became
clear why the room was so reasonably priced! I got
used to it, and although in general ONA personnel
stayed in nice hotels, NOT ALWAYS!
I worked in Jeddah for three Hadj seasons, and the
first year there we had almost all our big planes
committed, but unfortunately in those days there
wasn’t enough hotel rooms available to properly
accommodate all the crews, technicians and ground
staff in Jeddah. I got sent down there before the
Hadj started to try to find some rooms, but there
were simply none available at any price. Many
crew members will remember flying in from Jakarta
or some place, and having to wait until the outbound
crew left for the airport and their rooms were
cleaned before the incoming crew could get some
sleep. I also think some will remember that hotel
wasn’t really up to modern standards, although
it was within walking distance to the rug merchants
across from the old Hadj Terminal, which was a
great place to go shopping for handmade rugs brought
in by pilgrims from Iran and other countries. The
hotel was also a short taxi drive from the Gold
Souk – anyone remember being there when the shops
all closed for prayer? In those days, some shops
would often simply pull down a curtain and not
even lock their doors!
I liked Jeddah, and got to know some of the key
personnel there fairly well. I remember one day
being called to come to the airport immediately!
An ONA crew had been caught with LIQUOR!
I jumped in the car, fearing the worse. But when
I got there, the guy in charge, Captain Faddal
seemed strangely amused. He said, “Mr. Adam, it
seems an ONA crew was caught with liquor hidden
on the crew bus going back to the hotel due to
a canceled flight”.
This is serious, even today, and I couldn’t
figure out why he didn’t seem as upset as I
expected. He went on to explain to me that they
had NEVER had a case of “liquor” being smuggled
OUT of Saudi Arabia! The guilty crew shall be
un-named (mainly due to poor memory, almost
four decades later), but it seems that the
ONA cockpit crew had been based there in Jeddah
for the Hadj, and had developed a taste for
what the expatriates called “Sidiqqui”, which
loosely translates as “My Friend”, or what we
might call “moonshine”. There was a thriving
market for “white” (which tasted like vodka)
or “brown”, which had been soaked in wood
chips to provide a whiskey color, if not the
taste. One of the crew members wanted to take
some back to the US, but the flight got canceled
due to mechanical problems, and they tried to
take it back to the hotel, but were caught at
the exit search.
Anyway, it was all worked out with the airport
authorities, but I can assure you that after
that I received many comments from airport staff
about the ONA crew members caught smuggling out
moonshine FROM the “dry” Kingdom! The authorities
actually had quite a laugh about it!
Thinking of the Hadj flights brings back a lot
of memories, but it was a unique bit of history
for ONA, with a very substantial numbers of staff
working there in Jeddah, as well as in Morocco,
Indonesia and other countries. Some of you know
that after three Hadj seasons there with ONA, I
had gotten to know the team well at Saudia,
Saudi Arabian Airlines. They offered me a job,
and I ended up working and living there for eight
and a half years as Manager Route Planning and
Development! More recently, our oldest daughter,
who is a Doctor, works at a hospital in Riyadh.
In some ways, the more things change, the more
they remain the same!
A lot of fond memories, but the best for me is
that I met my wife Sharon on her very first
flight as an ONA stewardess. She flew in to
Malaga, and the cabin crew all went down to
the beach at the old Aloha Playa, the hotel
in Torremolinos ONA used at the time. After
the outbound flight left, I went back to the
hotel and down to the beach as well, and ran
into the crew. Marilyn White was the Senior
Flight Attendant on the crew, and she
introduced me to Sharon.
Thank You, Marilyn!
We all had lunch at a place there on the beach,
and that night we all went out to dinner.
I made sure to sit next to Sharon, and the
rest is history! Sharon only worked that one
summer for ONA, but we have been together for
38 years now, with two grown daughters and a
5-month old grand daughter. We loved our three
years in Torremolinos, and after living in
Jeddah, Arizona and New York City, we recently
retired back to Spain, to Nerja, about an hour
on the other side of Malaga.
Its great reading about and seeing pictures of
our many ONA friends on the web site, and
remembering all the great days of fun and
adventure! I wish I had known about the reunion -
Sharon and I would have loved to be there!
All the best, Ron Adam
Sharon and Ron at Nerja,
Spain in May 2011.
Come to reunion!
ONA PHOTO TREASURES
Helmut Jaeger and Herbie Eckhardt at
New York October 2003 reunion
Photo courtesy Margareta Nisser
This wonderful souvenir was brought to you
by Herb, BC Canada!
DC-10 Crew - Last flight out of Frankfurt
Photo signed by ONA crew
Benita Leung Noto,
Dale Geiger Johnstone,
Marilyn White Doolittle,
Wendy Wilbur and many more ...
Crazy Crew Stories at www.onacrew.com!
The Aloha Hotel by Andy Andrechyn
Lillemor Ostund Garsten and
Rosemarie Neuber in Karachi