A Vegas Urban Legend
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
January 4, 2016
LAS VEGAS - While doing a recent Internet
search, I found this posting on Facebook submitted by my old friend Delilah
It brought back memories of a little publicity
stunt I pulled forty years ago to advertise Steve's Flying Service (SFS),
my flight school and used airplane business once located at McCarran International
I wasn't a City Councilman at the time
as Delilah stated. That would come ten years later, but I was a full time
flight instructor and used airplane dealer with an eclectic roster of clients
including doctors, lawyers, casino owners, politicians, and a stripper
named Jan Fontaine.
One day after we completed a flying lesson,
Jan suggested that I invite several of her colleagues from the Cabaret
Burlesque Palace (now Club Paradise)
to visit my facility located on the west side of the busy airport. She
suggested that I take photos of them posing on two of my Cherokee 180 trainers
that later could be used to publicize my company. I had no idea what else
Jan had in store for me.
I happily scheduled the photo shoot and
promised to take the girls to the Omni Bar and Restaurant in the Hughes
Executive Terminal for breakfast afterwards.
next day, Jan Fontaine (photo by R. Scott Hooper) and her co-workers arrived
around 7 am just after the Cabaret closed. Jan and I parked the two Cherokees
near the Intersection of taxiways Alpha and Charlie just yards from the
departure end of Runways 19 Left and Right, the 10,000 foot long runways
used mainly by airliners.
We carefully positioned the girls on and
near the planes and I began shooting. Within seconds, a United 747 taxied
up and stopped only feet away. As if it were planned, the girls took
off their tops and flashed the plane.
I was shocked. SHOCKED! And
being the only man present, was embarrassed by what was happening.
I monitored 121.9, the ground control frequency
because we were just over the line from busy taxiways and runways. My scanner
suddenly came alive when the 747 captain alerted McCarran Ground of what
In a low gravelly voice he growled: "Las
Vegas ground. United 243 heavy is at the intersection of taxiways Alpha
and Charlie. There's eight naked women out here waving at my plane and
causing a commotion in the cabin."
"United 243 heavy, Las Vegas ground. Stand
by....... United 243 heavy, Las Vegas ground. I have the naked ladies in
sight. Hold short of one niner Right. Contact tower now at 119.9. I'll
alert police about the girls. Have a good day."
"United 243 heavy holding short. I'm gonna
need a couple minutes so I can get all my passengers strapped back in their
Following this soliloquy, other airline
captains began asking the tower where the girls were located?
I yelled at the ladies to put their clothes
back on. Then I saw red and yellow flashing lights across the field. Police,
fire trucks, and airport ground personnel were converging on my menagerie
as if it were an airplane crash. Thankfully, by the time authorities arrived,
the girls were back in their bikinis, and I was trying to act nonchalant.
The LVMPD Sergeant in charge had only one complaint. He wanted to know
why I didn't inform authorities ahead of time so they could be there to
watch the photo shoot? The rest of the first responders just stood there
looking at the scantily clad girls who were enjoying every minute of their
new found fame.
Needless to say, the breakfast that followed
was anything but ordinary. The entire airport was buzzing about my
stunt. After we arrived, the restaurant quickly filled up with cops, firemen,
and a host of Las Vegas big shots who based their planes at McCarran, all
there to gawk at the girls who were now wearing last night's evening gowns.
I sat at the end of our table trying to keep a straight face while the
girls flirted with the big shots, cops, and firemen.
Several months passed, and I made the most
of the photos by selling T-shirts, coffee mugs, postcards, and other souvenirs
with me pictured in a leather flying cap, goggles, and scarf glaring up
at the girls.
Business was good at SFS, and Jan Fontaine
finished her private and commercial courses with ease. I even considered
hiring her as a flight instructor if she stayed on course, but she had
far different plans.
Jan got her commercial license, she bought a 1958 Piper Comanche (left)
from SFS to start her own flying service. She called it Fontaine Airlines.
I checked the latest edition of the Yellow
Pages to see the Fontaine Airlines ad.
The airline's slogan was, you guessed it...
"Join The Mile High Club." She also advertised, "Our beautiful
flight attendant will tend to your every desire as you orbit high above
the Las Vegas Strip."
The Yellow Page ad on the Airlines page
caused quite a sensation at Steve's Flying Service which by now had gained
the nickname "Steve's Flying Circus," or sometimes even "Sleeze Flying
Service," to my dismay. I was getting more embarrassed.
After checking with the county and
FAA, it was confirmed that Jan's company was completely licensed, insured,
and legal. She could charge passengers for sightseeing flights that did
not go beyond a 25 mile radius of McCarran, and she and her flight attendant
were allowed to accept tips. Also, because nothing untoward happened in
the back of Jan's plane until she ascended into uncontrolled airspace above
7,500 feet, the "Mile High Club" concept was tolerated because it would
occur outside any law enforcement agency's jurisdiction.
Within weeks, Jan's business was booming.
Every night men lined up in the General Aviation Terminal just off Las
Vegas Blvd. waiting for Fontaine Airlines' next departure. This went
on until her old airplane - and her overworked flight attendant - wore
After three years in business, Jan couldn't
afford to overhaul her plane, so she sold it and closed her airline to
pursue more lofty goals. The cops, FAA, Clark County Department of Business
License, and McCarran International Airport Director were very relieved
to see the end of Fontaine Airlines.
So was I.
Somehow, despite this embarrassing episode
in my career, I went on to gain an appointment by the FAA, and also become
an elected city official. Needless to say, the above photos never appeared
on my resume, or in any of my election materials.