Nowadays, if you want to proclaim how rich you are you fund your own mission into space––Virgin Galactic; Space X; Blue Origin. Back at the tail end of the 1970s, ambitions did not run so out-of-this-world; then it was sufficient to set up a purely terrestrial airline. One of the enterprises to emerge out of this desire to flash your wodge was Lauda Air.
The airline was established by Austrian Formula 1 motor racing legend Niki Lauda. For Lauda, it was a genuine passion, and one that required long-term commitment. The company was established in 1979; became operational in 1985; flew its first long-haul flights in 1989––between Vienna and Sydney and Melbourne via Bangkok; became a subsidiary of Austrian Airlines in 2000; and ceased to exist in 2013.
I flew with Lauda Air only once, from Bangkok to Vienna, as part of a Round-the-World ticket. I have previously waxed lyrical about the quality of the airline meal I was served on the flight––which lived up to the company motto: service is our success––but it never harms to repeat sincere praise: it was the best airline meal I have ever experienced, and much of that pleasure came down to the attention to detail that had been lavished upon it.
Similarly, upon touchdown at Vienna International Airport to find Niki Lauda himself––complete with iconic red cap––waiting at the arrivals gate to shake the hand of every disembarking passenger was an event, which I knew I had been privileged to experience and which could not be routinely repeated.
That said, if I should ever take a flight to Mars with Space X at some unspecified date in the future I shall expect Elon Musk to be waiting by Olympus Mons ready to shake my hand.
© E. C. Glendenny
E. C. Glendenny has high expectations.