CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Piedmont Airlines is a name so familiar in the Charlotte area. Before becoming U.S. Airways and finally American Airlines, the carrier was one of the first to connect the Carolinas to the world. One Charlotte-based flight attendant who started her flying career with Piedmont in 1963 told FOX 46 she has no plans to hang up her wings anytime soon.
Wilbur, Orville, Amelia… they’re all in the history books. So is flight attendant Carol Daubins fair.
“I was just proud to be there to be a part of aviation,” said Carol Daubins.
“Mr. Puckett asked me, ‘well Carol, what can you do for Piedmont if you want a job?’ I thought, ‘well I can write tickets and I can make coffee.’ He said, ‘coffee? There’s a flight going to Winston-Salem in about an hour. Go get on it go over there and get a job as a stewardess and I thought well that’s not what I was here for.”
It was nearly 60 years ago Carol Daubins graduated as a freshly minted Piedmont stewardess, excited, to walk down the concourse in airports all over the southeast.
“Well, I was really proud of myself. Because here I was in this beautiful, uniform, it was a military looking uniform.”
Proud, to be part of an airline that truly felt biological at times.
“You’d almost be late getting to the airplane because people would stop and say, ‘how’s your mom and them? How’s your Aunt Sue after her surgery?’” Daubins said. “It was really a family.”
If you asked her in 1963 what she would be doing in the 21st Century, she wouldn’t have said flying.
“I was going to work six months and get married. Then I started flying and thought, ‘hmm, I like this job!’”
Daubins’ career persisted. Millions of miles flown on memorable trips with the best of friends.
Like the first Piedmont flight to London.
“It was like magic going from a DC-3 with 24 little people and then going on that big, big jet. It was lovely,” she said.
Through the jet age, deregulation, and 9/11, Daubins has flown through it all. Except COVID. She says the decision to take a short-term leave during the pandemic to try and save jobs was difficult, but it had to be done.
“Well, I thought it was really selfish of me to stay when so many people needed the job,” she said. “That I thought it was only fair that I didn’t have to work.”
It’s those airline family values that Daubins continues to live by. Passengers take notice.
“I still have people today. This is no lie, I have customers on board that say to me, ‘you worked for Piedmont, didn’t you?’ And I say, ‘yes, I did.’”
Daubins says there is a certain Piedmont Airlines work ethic that earned her spots in both the North Carolina and Tennessee Aviation Halls Of Fame.
“It means everything to me. That’s why I’ve worked so hard to preserve history and heritage of Piedmont Airlines.”
She knows her work to keep the Piedmont spirit alive is a job that will never truly be finished.
“It’s been a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I went into it blindsided. I didn’t really understand flying,” she said. “But I wouldn’t trade my career for anything.”
Daubins is looking forward to her return to the skies in 2022. In the meantime, she is raising all the money she can to help restore the Potomac Pacemaker, a DC-3 that she actually worked some of her first trips on—keeping memories preserved, so that the post piedmont generation can grasp the true impact this airline had.