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Up in the Air

by Betty Riegel

New York, 1961: the dawn of the commercial Jet Age and a golden era of air travel. Betty Riegel spent her early childhood hiding in air-raid shelters as bombs dropped all around. From humble working-class roots, growing up with a mother who struggled to make ends meet and a father away at war, she had always dreamed of bigger things. After responding to an advert in the local newspaper she secured herself an interview for the Pan Am training programme, and at just 22-years-old was selected from thousands of eager young British women to begin a career that would change the course of her life. Betty said goodbye to everything she knew and boarded a plane to New York, a city full of noise, towering skyscrapers and promise. Under the watchful eye of her 'housemother', Dottie, Betty mastered the art of being the perfect Pan Am stewardess; everything from faultless etiquette, geography and safety to seamless make-up application, how to charm influential passengers and preparing five-course Parisian cuisine at 37,000 feet. But no amount of training could have prepared her for the rollercoaster of life in the air. Up in the Air charts the gruelling yet fabulous life aboard the most iconic airline there has ever been, and how a young woman from Essex opened her eyes to the world and lived her dream.

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