MIA'S Story - THE YES FLY LIST
I was twenty four years old and having served four years as one of the few Americans fighting
in the French Foreign Legion. ( How I got there is another story.) During my four years in the
Algerian War, all I did was save my money.
It all started at the age of fourteen, living a couple of miles away from LaGuardia Airport in New
York City and I was IN LOVE.
No, not the pretty blonde high school cheerleader or my gorgeous math teacher..
AIRPLANES! AIRPLANES! and AIRPLANES.
After school I worked at a little airport in Queens, selling soda, filling in pilot logs books,
hand starting Piper Cubs ( A definite NO NO for a kid) and in exchange I got my
flying lessons from a part-time DJ who owned a small flight school.
When I returned home to the USA, my wallet full of four years savings, I knew I wanted to be a
pilot and immediately returned to training.
By the end of 1963 I was a REAL PILOT. The problem was finding a job with so little experience
but as luck would have it, a small airline in Europe offered me a job based in Frankfurt Germany.
One slight problem: I owned a cat. A lovely blue point Siamese named Mia. There was no way
I would leave her behind but transporting a cat, baggage and all my personal possessions
turned out to be a major production.
Determined, I boarded a Pan American flight to Frankfurt, cat in a carrier and checked into
a small hotel that permitted animals. Europe, unlike the USA treats domestic animals with a
lot more consideration. I found a studio, four flights up with a landlord who was happy to have
Mia as a tenant ALTHOUGH the butcher thoroughly disapproved of my buying sliced ham for a cat.
My trips were mostly to nearby European Cities and with very special permission from the Chief
Pilot, I was allowed to take Mia along with me.
She became a frequent site at Frankfurt Airport. Every Customs and Immigration Officer knew.
( Not to say they didn’t think it very strange and maybe suspicious, but they tolerated it).
One morning I arrived at the airport at 0600 for a 0730 departure. I presented myself to
Immigration and Customs and was told I was to have a “further detailed inspection”. Most of
us who fly very frequently know you can be singled out at anytime, Pilot, Flight Attendant or
Passenger. It was my turn.
Fifteen minutes later, I returned to the screening area, picked up Mia and we proceeded to our
flight to Luxembourg City. It was an uneventful trip and we returned to FRA at about 1330.
As I was clearing customs on arrival, a very stern looking Immigration Officer motioned me over
to his desk. He was intimidating and I thought I was in trouble. But, I hadn’t brought anything, no
whiskey or cigarettes or coffee ( very rationed at the time in Germany).
He reached into his pocket and presented me with a small booklet. It was very official looking
and contained a polaroid photo of Mia and details of her eye color and weight. It said
SPECIAL PASSPORT ( ENGLISH) . “ YOU WILL PRESENT THIS EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE
GERMANY AND ARRIVE HOME “. A Huge grin on his face. That Passport would be stamped
by every country I flew to. Yes, the German bureaucrats have a sense of humor.
Someone in that office was a true Feline lover and this was his way of expressing it.
When I started flying longer routes, a friend in New England took Mia who went on to produce
two litters of kittens and lived until she was fifteen in great style and comfort.
There isn’t a moral to this story just when you are lucky enough to own a cat, you never know
what is in store for you.