Cheap I know but I going to start with the Mile High Club. But as someone once put it - Remember when sex was safe and flying was dangerous?
Get any group of people talking about the airline business, and flying in general, and people will mention one of two things. Either it’s the great-lost baggage story or it’s the legendary mile high club. In all honesty there are few who readily admit to being a member of the club. Even those who are keen to brag of their membership are probably lying, and not just because there are, in reality, so few that have actually done it. The fact is that most commercial aircraft fly at closer to seven miles high. In order to be technically correct if you are a member of the mile high club then the chances are you will have needed to have ‘done it’ either during climb or in the descent, which means that you should have been wearing your seatbelt!
A recent survey found that around 9% of people admitted to having has sex on board a commercial airliner (it was an anonymous survey naturally). The respondents were evenly split between men and women, which challenges the traditional wisdom that men tend to brag and women tend to be modest when asked questions about sex. Before you start checking around you on your next flight to see if close to one in ten people are ‘at it’ don’t forget that only means that they may have done it on one occasion, not every time they fly!
What is it that makes talk of sexual exploits on board aircraft so fascinating? It’s possibly linked to the whole romance that used to be associated with flying. In the days when aircraft actually had proper bunk beds, and when air travel was the preserve of the very rich and the very famous; back then passengers were probably both. These days with air travel being more akin to getting on and off a bus the romance has very definitely gone out of flying.
Another aspect of the whole sex and travel routine is the single guy, and particularly the businessman who somehow thinks that every air stewardess, flight attendant, trolley dolly, call them what you like, is going to be instantly attracted to them. Watching lonely business travellers chatting up flight attendants is still one of the saddest sights to behold. New research shows that air stewardesses are facing increasing levels of harassment. Even the British Medical Journal has got in on the act claiming that passengers have pestered one in five stewardesses. The research was undertaken among 2,000 stewardesses who worked between 1965 and 1995 for Alitalia, the Italian airline. We will refrain from making any comment.
So who started it all, who were the Mile High pioneers?
‘The Club’ owes a huge debt to the pioneers of mid-air hanky panky, Lawrence Sperry and Mrs. Waldo Polk. In 1916 Sperry, a daredevil flyer and inventor of the autopilot, was giving flying lessons to Mrs. Polk, a wealthy New York socialite. They crashed in the waters of the South Bay and were found, naked, by two duck hunters. After the rescue Sperry claimed that the forces of the crash had divested them of their clothes. However that explanation was not universally accepted. One other point to note; Sperry was piloting a flying boat at the time, which of course proves that they were in at least one respect a badly named flying machine. As a footnote Sperry was killed flying a light aircraft (not a flying boat) across the English Channel a few years later.