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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wally McIntosh: Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Last week scheduling released me and I headed home in a flight attendant jumpseat, only to be called back to work the moment I stepped off the plane. However, I had the great opportunity to meet a wonderful person in the process.

Wallace McInstosh... "Wally"... is that person. Once a Los Angeles police officer, he now is serving drinks and smiles at 35,000 feet.

Wally worked the south side of Los Angeles for 12 years, East LA for three years, and was a detective for 6 years... bank robberies, murders, reconstructing crime scenes... you name it, he's done it. And now he's a flight attendant.

He'd met a munitions officer while he worked in the Air Force, years ago, and married her. They had two daughters, and  now he has 8 grandchildren. However, the life he created in Los Angeles was a challenging one.

Working LA he said that he, "lost the color of life." He told me that line of business, "You can't trust anyone, or they'll kill you."

His life consisted of domestic abuse calls, fighting, murders, robberies, and attorneys... he was going through a divorce, himself, at the time.  He'd been working one night, below the flight path of Los Angeles, and looked up and said, "There has to be more than this."  And then a plane roared overhead.

How did he become a flight attendant? He was actually dating one. One day she said, "Let me take you on a date," and told him to take a week off of work. They flew to Venice on her passes. As life went on, they broke up, and she married someone else. But his memories of her are wonderful. One day, he was saying how he missed the lifestyle with her. The ability to travel, and see the world. 

And then he realized, "I could do that." And he did. He retired from the police force and he joined Northwest Airlines, now Delta.

Wally told me he never worked for the sake of money, but for the love of working. His fondest memories were working on his father's farm. Now his days off are being a parent to his mother. He say's that she is the one person who loves him unconditionally, and he will miss her greatly when she is gone. 

His core belief... everything always works out. I too share that belief with him.

On the plane Wally says that he is, "close to God, and can see the tapestry of color below," and "meets wonderful people." He enjoys going to work and being able to say, "hi" to people. Something that he wasn't able to do in his other life.

His days off, as a hobby,  he builds aircraft, full motion, simulators. I was hoping to have pictures... but maybe we can update that later.

I am so glad to have had the opportunity to meet Wally. Keep your eye out for him and say hello.

Happy Flying... and enjoy the journey!



  1. Wally sounds like a cool guy, thanks for the introduction. I think this is a great idea - to show the people and personalities behind the professionalism, whether it be the people flying, the people in the cabin, or the people of the ground. I like it!

  2. Thanks DB... there are a lot of really cool people in the industry. Everyone has a story. :)

  3. Aw Bless him (Get told off at work for saying that!) Looks like a cool type of guy, and to work just for the love of working tells another story, that he loves to travel and meet new people and is dedicated to his job.

    Sounds like the type of person I would like on my yearly flight looking after us when we go on holiday :)

    Jo x

  4. Hopefully he will be on your flight Jo! And we know that it would be a great. Thanks so much for your comment. Where are you going on your yearly flight this year?

  5. We goto Majorca for our yearly holiday, have been going there since I was about 4, that was 35 years ago! Won't be crossing the path of Wally unless we win the lottery and fly Delta, always use my regional Jet2.Com airline as they are based at LBIA and the airport is only 5 minutes away.

    They are really reliable (one delay of an hour in the 6 years or so flying with them), cheap and very old. All of their 737's and 757's at over 20 years of age, that worries me, but we still do it and watching every Air Crash Investigation program on Discovery does not help me but i'm addicted. Flight attendants don't seem as happy as Wally does, some never serve with a smile :(

    Tell Wally to keep up the good work :)

  6. This is one of the reasons that I love being a flight attendant! You get to meet some of the most incredible people with such interesting lives. It's an awesome job if you just allow it to be so. Take care and have fun in your journeys.

  7. Well done, Karlene! A nice article about a nice guy. I don't fly commercial much anymore, but he's the kind of guy you hope to have on board.

  8. What a great person Wally seems to be, Karlene. Thanks so much for sharing his story. It made me think about how important it is to take the time to look people in the eye even when you're busy and stressed, like on an airplane :-) You never know who you might get a chance to meet.

  9. My hat is off to Wally. The South side of L.A., wow. I love his philosophy, "everything always works out." Brilliant!

  10. Hey Jo, I will tell Wally! And... my fingers are crossed you win the lottery! You deserve it. :)

  11. Thanks Linda, you are so right. Take every moment and opportunity to meet people. You just never know. Have a great day!

  12. Thanks Heather... you know that world! So... you know where he's coming from. A good place to be from. :)

  13. Great post! It almost makes me wish I had become a flight attendant too. Maybe in about 20 years when I decide to no longer be a translator? ;-)

  14. Hey Sergio...if you're a translator, then they will want you when you retire. :)

  15. Thanks Karlene, I will win the lottery when my daughter gets clearance from CAA to fly.

  16. Jo, That will be the best kind of lottery to win! Looks like you will too!


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