In about 1974 or so I was working for Pan Am at SFO as an Operations Representative/Loadmaster. One evening we had a cargo charter scheduled to depart for Hilo, Hawaii with a cargo of 42 dairy cows.

The cattle had been on the road from Montana for about three days when they arrived at the Clipper Cargo building at SFO. Upon examination by the U. S. Department of Agriculture inspector, it became clear that these poor cows had not been milked during their journey. The inspector would not allow the flight to be loaded until each cow had been milked.

As the supervisor in charge, I innocently asked the inspector if we (the Pan Am folks) could milk the cows as we were loading them into stalls. The answer was, yes, we could, as long as he observed the process.

Although I am a confirmed city-dweller, I had spent summers working for my Uncle Buck on his farm in Illinois. I knew how to milk a cow. One of the fleet service fellows also volunteered that he knew about milking. We constructed a temporary corral out of cargo bins and set to the task ahead of us. Milk the cow, load it in the pen, and repeat with the next customer.

During this whole process (which took over two hours) I had notice a vaguely familiar gentleman standing just outside of our “corral” intently watching the operation. With him was another vaguely familiar gentleman I knew I had seen but could not place. The two men were obviously amused by the whole episode and seemed to be critiquing our methods and technique.

At last the final bovine was milked and it was time to prepare the weight and balance and dispatch the aircraft. As I was staggering into the office, one of the gentlemen motioned me over. Only when I got closer did I recognize Najeeb Halaby, chairman of Pan Am. After congratulating me on my obvious knowledge of animal husbandry, he turned to the taller gentleman and said, “…and, of course, you know the Colonel” Only then did I recognize Charles Lindbergh. Colonel Lindbergh was on the Pan Am board of directors and often commuted to Hawaii in the freighter jumpseat, as he was doing this evening.

The Colonel accepted my outstretched hand and shook it as we chatted about cows and farm life in general. He also congratulated me on my milking speed and efficiency! I hated to leave, but I did have a weight and balance to prepare.

After buttoning up the airplane and watching it taxi away, I was reminded of what a genuine pleasure it was to work for Pan Am. You never knew exactly who you would meet!