My career in aviation has taken many twists and turns as it ran its course, none as exciting and daunting, as my time in New York working at JFK International Airport, between October 2000 and March 2004, now on paper the thought of living and working in New York, would seem like a lottery win, the big apple, the city that never sleeps, but I can assure you it was very far from sunshine and roses, but what was amazing were the incredible people I got to work with, and the unique and varied situations I was placed in really opened my eyes, and taught me the importance of teamwork within the aviation sector, as well as teaching me a lot about myself in the process.
I landed in New York on October 31st 2000, ready to start this new aviation adventure, I was heading to JFK Airport to work for the American branch of our company “GlobeGround North America” I had left Manchester Airport and “GlobeGround Manchester” to work at terminal 7 the British Airways operation, Globeground the parent company had purchased an American ground handling business called “Hudson General” the process of amalgamating the businesses was well under way, I’d already visited the operation having been invited, several months earlier, so I knew what it was about, and what was expected.
Initially I traveled over with my partner, who was hoping to obtain a position within aviation as well, as her resume was one of check-in to cabin crew, we both had dreams and aspirations that we were hoping to achieve? Our first residence on arriving in New Work was the Sunrise Inn,1000 Sunrise Hwy, Rockville Centre, NY 11570 (now the Ramada Hotel) . Nothing to shout about it was a room in an inn, perhaps in hindsight this should of been my first warning as to what I was letting myself in for, an employee traveling from the UK to work for you, placed in not the most salubrious of places to live, in a strange country with very little understanding of the area’s or cultures around me? But hey ho as they say we dealt with it, and made the most of the situation, making sure we researched the surrounding area’s in order to find somewhere to live, that was safe, and far enough from work so as to have the possibility of disconnecting when I wasn’t working. I was given a beat up Ford Taurus to use. I assumed this was going to be my vehicle? How wrong I was again! The search began!
Long Beach or Island Park for those that know New York and Long Island will know those locations well! My father had a long time best friend living in New York who had opened and been running a very successful business, he lived on Long Island with his wife, he had two adult children (son & daughter), who were to become the closest thing I had to family in New York (I didn’t tell them that though lol) There was also my dads friends wife’s brother living there with his wife also (phew that was hard to explain) they to would become a massive part of our lives, both as friends and cracking drinking buddies, we looked at several properties to find the one we could call our temporary home, after trawling through listing we visited a property in Island Park, close to Long Beach it was perfect for what we needed, not a lot to it one large living room with kitchen, a shower/bathroom and a bedroom ($950.00 per month!) the landlord agreed to a rolling tenancy which was unusual for the area, but it worked out perfect, the landlord was an Italian American guy, really nice and very accommodating, we had the ground floor of his house, it worked out OK. Once we got the keys and got ourselves settled in, it was approaching the time I needed to go into the office to meet the teams and start my aviation journey in the USA. I was nervous not because of the job as I knew that with my eyes closed. More because I knew that I was going to have to adapt to a massive culture change, us in the UK are fairly shielded from such huge cultural workplaces, we tend to see one group of people, be it one gender or one color etc. whereas in New York you could not get a more diverse group of people in a workplace! I was nervous more of what the guys and gals would make of me? and did I have enough to manage teams with my very English work ethic, that was the thing that was concerning me. But I was here now I’d arrived and I had a job to do. It was going to be an interesting challenge that I needed to approach positively and confidently. I’d arrived finally in New York to work at one of the most incredible and diverse airports on the planet! (Working at New York JFK 2000-2004 (Part 2: Day 1) to follow