By Deborah Brown
“Put your tray tables up and fasten your seat belts,” said David Preziosi as he began the program for the sold out Braniff Airways style show and luncheon at the Alexander Mansion on March 11.
Attendees “stepped aboard” for a delightful program reminiscing about the history and legacy of Braniff Airways. Before American and Southwest Airlines, there was only one hometown Dallas airline, and that was Braniff International, with their signature slogan, “Based Here! Best Here! First Here!” The occasion was to celebrate Braniff Airways Foundation’s momentous 95th year of public service for Braniff International.
The event was hosted by The Dallas Woman’s Forum to raise funds to restore the Alexander Mansion, which suffered extensive damage during the ice storm of 2021. The Forum’s Barbara Cervantes welcomed the guests and shared information about the activities and benefits of membership with the organization.
Preziosi, Braniff Airways Foundation board member and executive director of Texas Historical Foundation, presented the story of one of the most groundbreaking and revolutionary airlines in history, Braniff’s incredible focus on design and marketing and a mini fashion show featuring Braniff’s flight attendant uniform designs from haute couturier’s Emilio Pucci and Halston.
All the way from the little Stinson Detroiter single-engine six-passenger airplane that flew the first flight from Oklahoma City to Tulsa on June 20, 1928, Braniff has defined the times for the last century and continues that tradition of pioneering and innovation.
Collin Ice, Braniff Airways Foundation chief operating officer, shared how the Foundation preserves the history of Braniff Airways, Inc., through collecting, preserving, promoting and protecting the carrier’s legacy. It curates the Braniff International Heritage Archives, formerly Braniff Flying Colors Collection, which includes the original Braniff Airways advertising department records and archives. The collection was founded in 1972 and has become the largest and most comprehensive collection of Braniff memorabilia known to exist. The Foundation administers the intellectual property of Braniff Airways, Inc., including its copyrights and trademarks.
Since 1983, more than 700 licensing agreements have been executed authorizing the use of Braniff’s intellectual property. A unique line of products featuring the colorful look of Braniff Airways as their main theme are available at the Braniff Boutique available on the Foundation’s website.
Former flight attendants modeled the iconic uniforms designed. In the 1960s, the uniforms changed from navy blue suits in the military style to the Pucci-designed wild prints and bright colors. Former flight attendant Terri Hatch modeled the 1971 uniform and serving apron designed by Emilio Pucci. Asked about some of the famous passengers she served, Hatch reminisced about the flight with Joe Namath, former New York Giants quarterback football, who was a spokesman for Hanes Hosiery at the time. A fellow flight attendant asked him to autograph her panty hose, which she then framed to the chagrin of her husband. Namath invited them to a restaurant opening in Florida, which they attended and had a wonderful time with the gracious host.
After the program, guests made their way downstairs for the luncheon. The decorations on the tables were aviation themed and included orange table runners and napkins. Orange was one of the first of Braniff’s flying colors airplanes. The orange plane flew non-stop flights to Hawaii and was known as the Great Pumpkin.
The First-Class lunch menu was inspired by a vintage Braniff menu: salad and dinner roll, chicken Romanoff (breast of chicken in cream sauce w/mushrooms), garden vegetable medley, strawberry cheesecake dessert, water, iced tea and lemonade. Chocolate Angel provided the catering.
Former flight attendant Penny Patton Puetz said on May 12, 1982, the day Braniff filed for bankruptcy, when her flight landed at DFW, she had to tell all the passengers to deplane with their belongings and seek assistance with other airlines.
“I was crying and my heart was absolutely broken,” said Puetz. “I don’t believe for one second that our Braniff executives woke up this morning with the intent to ruin my life. Braniff Airlines has afforded me a life and a lifestyle that I don’t believe I would have ever had otherwise. And, furthermore, if Braniff were to start flying again tomorrow I would be right there waiting for the doors to open.”
Proceeds from the event benefitted the restoration of the Alexander Mansion. Learn more at dallaswomansforum.org. For more information about Braniff Airways Foundation, visit braniffinternational.com