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The Sunday Post [Nairobi]

5 February 1961 
(Pg 14)
EAA Profile No. 5
‘We’re paid to be civil, not servile’

It may seem a long haul from bombing Berlin in a Halifax to dishing out dinner in a Dsk, but that is in fact the journey taken by David Cleary Senior Check Steward serving with East Africa Airways.

To make good its claim of being ‘a friendly airline’, EAA flying crews must work as a friendly team. Just as the pilot must put you down at your point of destination with the best of skills, so also must the men and women in the cabin treat you to all the comforts of modern air travel.

That is David Cleary’s job, and the job of the other stewards and stewardesses that work with him. They are all part of the essential team. David Cleary started his serious flying career as a Wireless Operator in No. 35 (Pathfinder) Squadron RAF in the Halifaxes “Fine aircraft that” he said “took twice the punishment of a Lanc” but for all that it couldn’t stand up to the hammering it got one night in August 1943 over Berlin, from a JU 88.

“That was my thirtieth, the last trip of the tour” Cleary said “and we blew up just South of the city and had to bale out.”

Like so many others in Bomber Command, David Cleary spent the rest of the war in the bag, in Stalag Luft 4b, before, in 1946 he joined BOAC cabin staff.

For eight years David flew across the trunk routes of the world. The North and South Atlantic routes, India, Australia, and Africa, until in the early fifties he was transferred to Comet J’s and the Far East Service.

Stewards see a great deal more of an airline’s passengers than any other member of the flying world. They see them at their best and their worst, at their most charming and their most insufferable.

To a steward most men are alike at 5 in the morning after a long night flight, bleary eyed, stubble chinned and rumpled. To the steward the sick bag is a great leveller. “There was one old dear” David Cleary said “who flew with me to New York. She was plum nuts, or so her young companion told me, though she seemed as sweet as pie as far as I could tell. Sweet as pie, that is, until about two in the morning when she started howling that she was late for her bus. She grabbed her seat belt and started smashing at the window of the pressurised Stratocruiser with the metal buckle. Her companion tried to stop her and got her little finger broken for her trouble.

“I ran up to help and eventually got her strapped in and safe but the whole time the poor old thing was whimpering away that she would miss her bus and be late for the week end shopping.”

Another of Cleary’s passengers was George Raft, the actor. He was crossing over to the States in the same aircraft as the senior sales manager of BOAC and BOAC’s head caterer and he called up for some coffee. “He neither smoked nor drank” Cleary said “but swallowed coffee by the gallon. I had a new junior steward on board and I sent him off for the coffee. I saw him return with it and hand it to Mr Raft who took a sip and nearly spat the lot on the floor. I hurried up and tasted some myself. It was indescribable and I sent the chap for more. Raft saying “I know you Limeys can’t make cawfee, but I’ve never …

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