Monday, November 23, 2015

'Plane' talk about a '66 Mustang

Frank Maddock jokes that his wife loves her 1966 Ford Mustang more than she loves him.

At age 80, Frank Maddock of Arlington looks like he still belongs in the captain’s seat of one of the airliners he piloted during his career with Braniff Airlines.

And it’s easy to imagine his wife, Sue, 70, still striding the aisles of one of those airliners as a flight attendant.

The Arlington couple visited Brownwood on Nov. 14, bringing the orange-red 1966 Ford Mustang convertible Sue has owned since the car was brand new to the Lehnis Railroad Museum. Accompanying them: their German Shepherd dog, Jody, who traveled with Frank in a sport utility vehicle, and a series of remarkable stories that include romance, aviation, motorcycles — and cars.

The two are members of a car club called the Special Interest Ford Club, Dallas/Fort Worth, which is open to any Ford-powered vehicle. About 18 members of the club drove to Brownwood on Nov. 14 — the Saturday before last — to see the Route 66 exhibit at the Lehnis Railroad Museum.

Club members parked their Fords — Mustangs and other cars that ranged from the 1950s to a more modern era — across the street from the train museum.

Sue Maddock owns one of the Mustangs that was parked there — a pristine orange-red 1966 convertible. She was still single when she bought the Mustang brand new through an Irving dealership, and she’s kept it for 49 1/2 years.

Though she’s had her Mustang for 49 1/2 years, she’s still enamored with the “fabulous” car, which boasts a 289-cubic-inch engine and three-speed manual transmission.

“I enjoyed driving it so much, I never wanted to trade it in for anything,” Sue said.

“She loves it more than me, but she got it before she got me,” Frank joked.

“Once upon a time, I was flying a route for Braniff. It was the Denver-Memphis run,” Frank said, beginning the story of how he and Sue first met in 1966.

Frank was a brand-new co-pilot on a Convair twin-engine turboprop airliner. In Memphis, Frank and the rest of the plane’s crew checked into a hotel for an overnight stay. A crew from another Braniff flight was checking in at the same time, and the two captains greeted each other.

Each captain introduced his crew to the other crew. Frank met Sue, who was a flight attendant on the other flight, for the first time that night.

The next night, in Denver, the two crews again checked into the same hotel. Sue wanted to see a movie and invited Frank.

“What’s playing?” Frank asked.

“Flight of the Phoenix,” Sue replied. They walked to a nearby theater to see the movie, then had coffee and talked until 3 or 4 a.m.

Frank and Sue returned separately to Dallas, where both were based with Braniff. Frank wanted another date with Sue. But she hadn’t given him her phone number. “Fortunately, after the movie, she mentioned the apartment complex that she lived in,” Frank said.

“My phone rings, and it’s him,” Sue recalled.

It wasn’t quite that simple.

There was no listing for a phone under Sue’s name. Frank went to the apartment complex and looked at the mailboxes until he found one with the names of Sue and her roommates.

“Frank did not know the names of any roommates, so he had to look for a box with my name on it,” Sue recalled. “He then wrote down the names of the other roommates listed on the mailbox, went back to the phone booth and asked the operator for the phone number of each roommate.

“Fortunately, one of the roommates had a listed phone number. How was that for tenacity?”

“My phone rings, and it’s him,” Sue recalled.

The two dated for a year and were married on April 12, 1967.

Frank went on to fly jetliners for Braniff before retiring from flying in 1985.

Sue went on to get a pilot’s license, and the two became airplane owners.

“You briefly asked me what else I had to tell you about me,” Sue said in an email to a Bulletin reporter. She had more to tell:

Sue retired from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office in 2005 as a lieutenant after 24 years in law enforcement. Sue started out working as a police officer in 1981, then joined the sheriff’s office as a patrol deputy in 1984.

“I was also the first woman to run for sheriff in Tarrant County,” Sue said via email. “I lost to the incumbent sheriff in the Republic Primary Election of 1996, but what a ride it was!”

When it was suggested that Sue was next going to say she’s been on a dogsled expedition to Antarctica, Sue replied via email, “Even though I have not been to Antarctica, our son Shawn has been there several times. Those trips were via a United States Coast Guard ice breaker.

“ … Frank and I have been to many destinations around the globe. Thanks to our discounted travel benefits as a result of his working in the airline industry, we continue to enjoy going places and doing exciting things whenever possible.

“We are very blessed indeed.”

“I think it’s a sweet little community,” Sue said of Brownwood. “The people seem to be very nice. I think it’s very Texan.”

She and Frank had been through Brownwood previously, riding through on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but they’d never previously been to the train train museum. “We enjoyed the museum. It’s a first for us,” Sue said.


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