How a PanAm flight attendant fell in love which has a CIA officer on a plane

(CNN) — In September 1970 Jocelyne Nowaski was working as chief flight attendant on a Pan American World Airways flight through Paris to brand-new York when her life changed forever.

In her two years at Pan Am the 23-year-old had made friends across the globe, served celebrities including Beatle Ringo Starr as well as featured with her coworkers from the pages of Paris Match magazine.

Pan Am layovers were spent exploring Morocco, on safaris in Nairobi, galloping on horseback on the beaches of Barbados, swimming in Liberia, as well as browsing the jewelry stalls of Beirut.

As she recalls the idea, her career happened almost by accident. Jocelyne had majored in biology at brand-new York City’s College of Mount St. Vincent, intending to become a doctor.

nevertheless right before graduation, a friend knocked on her dorm room as well as told her the luxury airline was interviewing for flight crew at its famous Manhattan skyscraper.

Her friend insisted they should both try out, for a laugh.

“Why not?” agreed Jocelyne. She found herself recalling the glossy commercials: “Your Pan Am stewardess knows her way around the planet like you know your way around the block.”

To become a Pan Am flight attendant, candidates needed a college degree, as well as to speak a second language. Jocelyne’s mother was French-Canadian, so she ticked both boxes.

She was hired — her friend wasn’t — as well as within weeks of graduating, followed by rigorous training, Jocelyne was working her first trip aboard a Boeing 727 to Nassau, from the Bahamas.

Jocelyne never became a doctor as well as never looked back.

“the idea was the best job,” she tells CNN Travel today. “the idea wasn’t a job; the idea was a labor of love.”

In September 1970, love was the last thing on Jocelyne’s mind. She’d ended a relationship which has a pilot six months previously, as well as she was having a blast exploring the planet with her girlfriends. Her focus was on her career.

from the interim, fire-arm qualified individuals through organizations like the CIA as well as FBI were seconded as well as assigned onto flights.

Traveling back to JFK through Paris in mid-September, Jocelyne recalls she as well as her crew were told of which two security officers would certainly be joining them: one in economy as well as one in first class.

PanAm romance (4)

Jocelyne in her uniform, including her gold wings.

Courtesy Jocelyne Harding

Jocelyne was heading up the economy cabin as purser, as well as they were readying for takeoff. All the passengers had boarded the Boeing 707, a narrow-body airliner used by Pan Am through 1958.

nevertheless the security officers were late, much to Jocelyne’s annoyance. She rolled her eyes even harder when she learned the idea was because they’d been buying Parisian scarves to impress girls back home.

Finally arriving on board, the economy cabin security officer introduced himself. His name was Tyler Harding, smartly dressed in a suit as well as tie, a tan overcoat over one arm.

Right away, Jocelyne recalls, she was struck by his charm as well as Great looks, nevertheless she wasn’t interested in a relationship as well as didn’t think he was seriously interested in her.

“I was working with some Swedish girls as well as the Swedish girls were absolutely stunning,” she laughs. “I wouldn’t even think of competing against them.”

Tyler took his seat on the second to back row as well as the aircraft took off, bidding the Paris lights goodbye as well as setting off across the Atlantic Ocean.

Air marshals are supposed to blend in, so Jocelyne served Tyler as she would certainly any various other passenger, nevertheless unlike every various other passenger he tried to strike up a conversation every time she came over.

“He was very flirty,” Jocelyne recalls. “I was not, because I thought: ‘Oh, he’s just doing This kind of because he wants to talk to my colleagues.'”

This kind of suspicion — plus the scarves — made her wary. She kept her tone terse, even teasing him about his drink choice. “He was very pleasant, in spite of my being snarky,” she says.

As the aircraft started off cruising over the ocean, Jocelyne as well as her coworkers began their dinner service. Tyler continued to engage her in conversation whenever she walked by.

PanAm romance (8)

Jocelyne as well as her Pan Am coworkers enjoyed their layovers in destinations across the planet. Here they are on a safari in Nairobi.

Courtesy Jocelyne Harding

After she’d served the food, Jocelyne did her usual overview of the cabin. While walking down the aisles she glanced at Tyler. He wasn’t looking at her at of which moment. nevertheless she felt herself stop in her tracks, struck suddenly which has a thought: “I wonder what the idea’ll be like to be married to him?”

She recalls quickly shaking herself out of the idea. “What are you thinking? You don’t even know This kind of man.”

nevertheless Jocelyne couldn’t explain the idea, even to herself. In of which moment she’d been struck by This kind of strange certainty of which a future with Tyler was not only likely, nevertheless inevitable.

Sometime later, she was sitting up top of the plane on the jump seat, when Tyler sat down next to her. At which point he asked her out.

“I don’t date passengers,” she said. “as well as you’re probably married anyway.”

Tyler pointed out he wasn’t exactly a passenger, as well as when Jocelyne still looked unimpressed, he fished out his passport, which back then listed dependents — or in his case, absence of them.

He was 29, the black print said, as well as a resident of Alexandria, Virginia.

Jocelyne was relieved, nevertheless still wary about dating someone she barely knew. Apparently sensing This kind of, Tyler relented as well as returned to his seat.

As the airplane approached Long Island, edging closer to brand-new York City, the idea was time for Jocelyne to do the last drinks service, carrying a teapot in one hand as well as a coffee pot from the various other.

She got to Tyler, who requested coffee.

“as well as as I’m pouring the coffee in his cup, he looked up at me with those amazing blue eyes,” recalls Jocelyne. “Naturally, I poured the coffee into his cup. Unfortunately, at the same time I poured tea into his lap.”

Mortified, Jocelyne grabbed cloth napkins through the back of the plane as well as handed them to him.

Tyler told her not to worry, nevertheless was laughing. “right now you have to go out with me,” he said.

Blushing, Jocelyne dodged the question as well as went to confide in her friend Mala, who was the purser in first class.

“As I’m pouring the coffee in his cup, he looked up at me with those amazing blue eyes. Naturally, I poured the coffee into his cup. Unfortunately, at the same time I poured tea into his lap”

Jocelyne Harding

Mala suggested they invite both the flight’s security officers to a crew party she was planning at her Queens apartment after they landed.

Jocelyne agreed as well as returned to economy to tell Tyler as well as hurriedly pass on the address before generating preparations for final descent.

After landing, she couldn’t spot him amid the crowd, as well as felt disappointed as she traveled through JFK to Mala’s home. He was nowhere to be seen as the party got into full swing. Then the doorbell rang.

the idea was Tyler, with his fellow security officer in tow.

“the idea took my breath away. the idea definitely did,” says Jocelyne.

Right away, the pair went to the kitchen as well as started off chatting over cocktails.

“I was leaning against Mala’s range with my back to the ring. He was standing in front of me as well as we must have talked for about three hours.”

The pair discussed their childhoods — hers in brand-new York as well as his in California — their families, dreams, travels, careers.

The only thing off the table was the true nature of his job — Tyler couldn’t reveal he worked for the CIA. She found of which out later.

Tyler as well as Jocelyne ignored the hubbub of the party around them, chatting incessantly.

“At the end of the evening, he looked at me, as well as he said: ‘Will you marry me?'”

Her answer, she says, slipped out instinctively, in a moment of clarity as well as assurance. “I said, ‘Yes.'”

Globe spanning romance

PanAm romance (1)

Jocelyne as well as Tyler in December 1970, a few months after they met.

Courtesy Jocelyne Harding

After the party, Tyler as well as his colleague gave Jocelyne a ride back to her parents’ home in brand-new York, where she couldn’t help nevertheless blurt out her fateful news.

“I just met the man I’m going to marry,” she told her mother, who laughed.

“Oh, you’re crazy. the idea doesn’t work of which way,” she said.

nevertheless the very next day Tyler called round to see Jocelyne as well as meet her parents, hitting the idea off with them too.

Neither Tyler or Jocelyne had much time in brand-new York City before they were heading on their next work trip — he to Tehran as well as she to Rome.

“I can’t actually marry you yet,” Jocelyne told him, before he departed. “of which would certainly be ridiculous.”

Tyler just smiled as well as left his 1968 Mustang parked in her parents’ driveway.

In Rome, Jocelyne had plans lined up which has a man she’d been casually dating during her Italian layovers.

“He had a whole weekend plan to take me in his sports car up the Amalfi Coast,” she recalls.

Upon landing in Italy, she called him up as well as, despite his protestations, told him she wouldn’t be able to come after all.

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Jocelyne in Rome, 1970. This kind of photo was taken on the first leg of her trip, right before she met Tyler.

Courtesy Jocelyne Harding

Instead, she spent the weekend in Rome with Mala as well as her various other Pan Am colleagues, walking around the city, throwing coins from the Trevi Fountain, as well as enjoying pasta dinners.

When Jocelyne got back to brand-new York, Tyler contacted her right away. Ostensibly, the idea was under the excuse he needed to collect his car, nevertheless they both knew of which wasn’t the real reason.

The two started off dating, spending all their time together when they weren’t traveling for work.

of which October, just a few weeks after they met, Tyler asked Jocelyne to marry him — again. This kind of time, she said yes with certainty.

They told their parents on Thanksgiving, as well as on Christmas Eve 1970, Tyler met her at JFK with an engagement ring.

PanAm romance (3)

Jocelyne with her friend Mala (left) who was on board the airplane when Tyler as well as Jocelyne met.

Courtesy Jocelyne Harding

Jocelyne as well as Tyler got married March 1971, at the chapel of the College of Mount St. Vincent. For their honeymoon they flew to Fiji, taking advantage of Jocelyne’s Pan Am discount to travel first class as well as spend eight days relaxing.

Back from the US, she moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where Tyler was based, nevertheless still flew out of brand-new York.

“We both travelled a lot,” says Jocelyne. “He went on assignment often for the CIA, as well as of which first Christmas, I remember he was gone for three months on an assignment to Laos, as well as of which was tough.”

When she could, Jocelyne tried to work round-the-world flights out of brand-new York, so she’d be gone for weeks at a time too, traveling through brand-new York to Tokyo as well as back.

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Jocelyne as well as Tyler on their wedding day on March 28, 1971.

Courtesy Jocelyne Harding

as well as towards the end of Tyler’s stint in Laos, she decided to surprise him with an unscheduled visit.

“I thought, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing This kind of,’ because there was a war going on there then. nevertheless I did, as well as I met him, as well as we came home together after his assignment. as well as through then on, the idea’s just been a whirlwind.”

In March 2021, Jocelyne, right now 74, as well as Tyler, 80, will have been married for 5 decades.

“I can’t believe the idea’s 50 years already,” she says. “I can’t believe the idea.”

The glamor of Pan Am

Jocelyne fondly recalls working on the first Boeing 747 flight between Paris as well as brand-new York. Here, a Boeing 747 can be seen just after landing at London's Heathrow airport, on January 22, 1970.

Jocelyne fondly recalls working on the first Boeing 747 flight between Paris as well as brand-new York. Here, a Boeing 747 can be seen just after landing at London’s Heathrow airport, on January 22, 1970.

AFP via Getty Images

Jocelyne continued flying with Pan Am for a year after her marriage. Regulations had just recently changed to allow married women to continue working as flight crew.

nevertheless she left the company in 1972, when Tyler’s job transferred to Thailand.

Jocelyne said farewell to her wings with great sadness, nevertheless soon embraced the brand-new adventure of a life in Southeast Asia, followed by a stint in Hawaii. The couple had their first child, a daughter, while living in Honolulu.

Tyler as well as Jocelyne then settled back in Virginia for a while, having a second daughter there, nevertheless before long they were living in Frankfurt, Germany.

“The kids loved the idea because we took them everywhere on weekends. We went to France, we went to all different parts of Germany, Switzerland,” recalls Jocelyne.

from the late 1970s, the couple bought some farmland in Maryland through the uncle of one of Jocelyne’s old Pan Am pals as well as built the home in which they live today.

Jocelyne’s still in touch with many of her friends through of which time, including Mala. She’s part of World Wings International, the organization of retired Pan Am Flight attendants.

“We still entertain like no one entertains,” she laughs.

Pan Am’s glamorous reputation has lingered on, long after its last flight. of which legacy can be deserved, says Jocelyne.

“Everything was about generating the customer happy as well as elegance on the plane,” she recalls. “We served the finest wines, the finest of everything. Paris Maxim’s [the famed French restaurant] did our catering. the idea was elegant, the idea was special, people dressed up.”

Jocelyne memorably worked the inaugural 747 flight between brand-new York as well as Paris, a press flight where passengers sipped Moët Chandon Champagne as well as ate caviar through Tehran. of which’s when she was featured in Paris Match magazine.

“We were interviewed when we got off the plane. the idea was terribly exciting, the idea definitely was. The 747 was amazing. I did love of which plane, nevertheless I missed the ambiance of the 707.”

She recalls her team were given special buttons promoting the 747, which they wore on their lapels. Uniforms were blue or tan, with Pan Am wings made of gold.

Alongside their two daughters Jocelyne as well as Tyler right now have 5 grandchildren. Everybody from the family loves travel, says Jocelyne, with one of their daughters spending two decades living in France, Istanbul as well as Warsaw, as well as the various other taking a year out to backpack the planet after graduation.


Jocelyne as well as Tyler pictured in 2014.

Courtesy Jocelyne Harding

The pandemic has grounded the family from the US for right now, nevertheless despite their decades of travel, Jocelyne as well as Tyler still have spots left on their must-visit list. For Jocelyne, the idea’s Bhutan. For Tyler, the idea’s Australia, where the couple have family.

Tyler right now has some memory issues, nevertheless he still fondly recalls of which momentous 1970 flight through Paris to brand-new York.

“I saw This kind of cute girl as well as she was kind of snotty to me,” he says. “nevertheless we talked after we got off as well as after of which, we never stopped.”

“the idea’s been an amazing journey I wouldn’t trade for anything,” says Jocelyne. She pauses as well as laughs.

“Oh, as well as I wound up with all those scarves he bought.”

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