THE BIG READ | SAA pilot reveals the scandalous things that occur on flights

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SAA pilot Robert Schapiro was shocked by some of the things he witnessed aboard flights in the '70s and '80s. (PHOTO: Supplied)
SAA pilot Robert Schapiro was shocked by some of the things he witnessed aboard flights in the '70s and '80s. (PHOTO: Supplied)

It's hard to imagine it: pilots smoking in the cockpit, flirting with air hostesses and flying their planes like cowboys with absolutely no regard for the comfort or safety of their passengers.

Back in the ’80s, SAA was the "ultimate boys' club", says Robert Schapiro – and he should know because as a co-pilot he saw it all. And often it wasn't just the pilots who were behaving badly but the passengers as well. In this extract from his new memoir, Secrets from the Cockpit, he lifts the lid on some of the crazy antics he witnessed.

It wasn’t unusual for pilots and cabin staff to gain 10 kilograms or more in their first year of working for SAA. It may come as a shock to today’s traveller but airline food used to be surprisingly good – even in economy class.

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