Thursday 25 May 2017

Charmaine cleared for departure after 44 years in cabin crew career

Charmaine McCall-Hagan, 65, completed her final flight last Friday on a Loganair service from Shetland to Edinburgh (PA/Loganair)
Charmaine McCall-Hagan, 65, completed her final flight last Friday on a Loganair service from Shetland to Edinburgh (PA/Loganair)

One of the UK's longest-serving cabin crew has flown her final flight after a career spanning more than 44 years.

Charmaine McCall-Hagan, 65, from Bothwell, South Lanarkshire, completed her final flight last Friday on a Loganair service from Shetland to Edinburgh.

She started her career in 1973 at the age of 21 with British Airways with her first flight to Belfast.

It was on the Belfast route that she met her husband, now retired pilot Captain Bill Hagan, who earned fame for saving the lives of 400 passengers after a hijacking attempt on a British Airways 747 bound for Nairobi, Kenya in 2000.

A male Kenyan passenger stormed the flight deck, sending the jumbo jet into a 10,000ft nosedive, with Mr Hagan having to resort to sticking his finger in the hijacker's eye to neutralise him.

Mrs McCall-Hagan told Press Association Scotland: "I was on board with the children and Bill was flying the aircraft. I wouldn't like to do it again.

"Afterwards we said it was like winning the lottery because we survived it.

"It wasn't nice and it's a shame because when you hear about plane crashes the passengers know they are going down and it's not pleasant at all."

Mr Hagan said of the incident: " It happened in the months before September 11 and the review happened at the time of that incident, so it was all combined.

"The event between him and I went on for the best part of three minutes, so I had quite a wide selection of thoughts during that time, but ultimately my main concern was for the safety of the aircraft and various thoughts were going through my head about where we were in the world - were we over the Himalayas and what sort of heights were involved before we would hit the ground?

"A few days before we were on the aircraft I had been talking to my young son as he was then and he asked what you would do to fight off a shark if you were attacked by one.

"I said I had been told that if you stick your finger in its eye it might break off its attack and it was just at the time as we were going down that I got the inspiration to gouge him with my finger."

Mrs McCall-Hagan's aviation career was primarily spent in Scotland, apart from six years when she worked with British Airways' long-haul fleet travelling to destinations in the US and Africa.

The mother-of-two has looked after many well-known passengers during her extensive career including George Best, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne.

She joined Loganair in 2011 and the Scottish regional airline marked her departure by holding an informal ceremony in Sumburgh Airport's departure lounge and announcing to passengers it would be her final flight.

Mrs McCall-Hagan said: "I've had a fantastic career and when you think about it I can't go on forever - I must be the oldest stewardess in Britain. I'm just embarrassed about all the fuss.

"I've had a great time from start to finish. We own a boat in Largs so I could be swapping the skies for the ocean ."

Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair's managing director said: "Congratulations to Charmaine on her well-deserved retirement.

"It's extremely fitting for her to finish a long and successful career with Loganair, operating routes across the Highlands and Islands as she began her flying life 44-years ago."

Press Association

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