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When I was in middle school, my mother took me out of school one day to attend a “memory” seminar for salespeople, thinking it would help me with that struggle in school. It was one of those day-long sessions where we learned to use “memory hooks” to help with first name recognition and memorizing long ordered lists.
Whether it worked as intended, I’m not sure. I still struggle with names, even in small groups. But I can remember the most trivial of things about places I’ve only been once.
That is why I was driving to DFW yesterday to catch my flight to Wichita KS (ICT) so I could get up to Salina KS. The sight of a American plane taking off triggered a memory hook.
As the avid aviation geek I can be, I was not going to miss the announcement of the new fleet design on January 17, 2013. So I wrapped up my early morning meeting with my client on a cold day in Salina KS and before heading to Manhattan KS (MHK) for my flight, I drove to IHOP so I could watch the corporate reveal on a live stream while eating my pancake breakfast.
Oh, how I hated that design when it was first revealed. It almost ruined my breakfast to try to digest change along with my pancakes.
Captain America, some of my fellow frequent flyers called it. The funny name stuck with me.
It would be mere weeks later when American would announce the pending merger with US Airways. American moved ahead with painting new planes, even when new CEO Doug Parker polled employees to see if they liked the new design. To me, the new look would suddenly become the last mark of the “old American”. As many of the purported enhancements of the new American were announced, the livery stood out as the last milestone in an era of progress.
Much has changed in the last 22 months since that announcement, both for me and for American.
I no longer get to eat pancakes (or at least not in places like IHOP anymore) thanks to a diagnosed wheat intolerance.
I have come around to loving the new aircraft design even if I often dislike the changes taking place on the airline. As I realized yesterday, the new livery looks quite striking when taking off on a beautiful blue skied day. And I love the look of the new tails swimming across the alleyways of the hub airports.
And Salina KS, a city with no commercial air service, now has the distinctive honor of being my memory hook for the first time I met Captain America.