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New Braniff Up and Running 20 Minutes Late

Mary Jo Nelson Published: March 2, 1984

It was a day of joyous birthdays for the Braniff family.

John Paul Braniff Jr., born March 1, 1952, turned 32 on Thursday. A seminarian, he celebrated quietly at his priestly studies in Indiana.

The airline founded by his grandfather was reborn the same day. The new Braniff Inc. resurrected its tradition with 19 inaugural flights from as many cities.

Among the most honored passengers from Oklahoma City to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and back were John Paul Braniff, son of founder Paul R. Braniff, and another of John Paul's sons Michael, 28.

"I'm so glad you were on my flight," bubbled Lynn Fox Lyon, attendant on Flight 102 which carried John and Michael from Dallas to Oklahoma City.

"I was praying to Tom Braniff up in heaven every day. "Braniff just can't be dead.' I never gave up hope," the stewardess said. Tom Braniff co-founded the airline with his brother, Paul, in 1928 in Oklahoma City. The two men died a few months apart in 1954.

As the inaugural flight 103 soared out of Will Rogers World Airport to begin the exciting day, the airline was running true to its new slogan, "Braniff is Up and Running."

It was running late by 20 minutes.

Several of the 72 new flights also were delayed by minor first-day problems, but nobody seemed to mind as scores turned out at Will Rogers and elsewhere, just to wish the carrier "welcome back."

Spirits were bubbling over with the champagne at D/FW, where hundreds showed up to jubilantly celebrate the day with Braniff employees.

Ray Barnett, who was Braniff terminal manager until the airline filed bankruptcy on May 13, 1982, was the first to greet the Braniff father and son in Dallas.

"What an honor," he almost shouted. "Wait 'til I tell my wife."

Inside the D/FW hospitality room, off-duty pilot Bob Ganss grabbed the elder Braniff. "I just want to shake your hand," he told him. "We're so delighted they kept the Braniff name. That makes us family."

Like unknown numbers of other off-duty Braniff employees, former employees and their families, Ganss volunteered to personally greet passengers at Dallas. Similar Braniff armies staffed terminals throughout the system.

"I worked here 20 years and never met a Braniff," said one former employee. "I'm tickled to death."

"I think every single Braniff employee in the world volunteered today," said Pat Zart, former long-time employee. She said hundreds of retired and unemployed Braniff people have volunteered for months to get the carrier back in the air.

At Will Rogers, more than 150 persons milling about wore "Welcome Back" stickers. The crowd munched on doughnuts provided by the airline, cheered when the plane rolled up to the ramp, again when Miss Oklahoma Susan Powell snipped a ribbon and gave the travelers a warm sendoff.

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