by Laurie Taylor.
At the Mexico City and Stockholm IFALPA Conferences in 1961 and 1962 delegates argued fiercely whether an IFALPA badge should be commissioned, but the idea came to nothing because all had different ideas about purpose and design.
Following that non-event and without any formal status within IFALPA – a small group of respected pilots active in the phantom 'Committee X' reached a conclusion that those pilots who loyally and actively served the Federation between conferences should be honoured by their peers and be recognizable by wearing a special designed necktie. Lawrie Arthur and Louis Zeyfert carried the idea further during dinners held in Stockholm and in England, and in informal discussions with other persons at the Salisbury and Manila Conferences in 1963-'64.
Lawrie was made responsible for designing a tie and having it produced in England; and the now familiar and unchanged design shows two horizontal bars denoting steadfastness and loyalty in Heraldic tradition, golden wings and the graticule of two hemispheres forming eyes, with spectacles added to denote wisdom, judgement and longevity – the whole representing a wise old pilot viewing the world. Deciding who should be honoured with ties was kept separate from any IFALPA process and was at the joint discretion of Alpha and Omega – Lawrie and Louis.
At early conferences ties were presented during plenary sessions but the practice ended due to pressure on conference time. Lawrie and Louis held a fourth dinner at Goodwood in England where first use was made of the term Alpha-Omega, for Arthur and Zeyfert respectively. As an extension of their original idea it was they who first suggested that IFALPA make awards to pilots who served the Federation well.
It was not until 1965 that the Federation honoured pilots in this way, with the first C N Sayen Award being presented to Captain Bill Masland of USA ALPA at the 20th Conference at Rio de Janeiro. At the Amsterdam Conference in 1969 Scrolls of Merit were introduced and Lawrie Arthur is the first name on the list. Louis Zetfert received a Scroll of Merit in 1970 and the C N Sayen Award in 1975.
In1981 members of the club adopted a practice of holding a private dinner during annual IFALPA conferences, and a very successful events have been held at Acapulco, Bali, Cairo, Dublin (twice), Helsinki, Hong Kong, London, Lisbon, Montreal (thrice), Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Vancouver and Washington. All members and spouses are invited to attend these Annual Reunion Dinners with spouses of deceased members receiving an especially warm welcome.
Administrative assistance in making arrangements is provided by IFALPA and the member associations responsible for organizing that annual conference, but the club and it's activities are self financing and self-regulating and independent of the Federation. In the 1970s following the death of Louis, and because of Lawrie's full-time commitments with ICAO, the administration of Alpha Omega Club passed to Richard Hill, Frank (Sam) Houston and Yonosuke Tsukamoto , but in 1985 a meeting of a small group of members was held at BALPA's offices when it was agreed to circulate a questionnaire to members of Alpha Omega seeking their views on the club's future.
As a result of the questionnaire it was determined that all persons awarded the C N Sayen Award or Scroll of Merit would be invited to join the Club. Exceptionally, other persons are invited to join the Club on being formally proposed and seconded by members and after it has been established that no members are opposed. After the 1985 questionnaire Richard Hill and Laurie Taylor took up the task of Club administration and started a biannual newsletter which the Federation prints and distributes.
Since 1989 Richard Hill has looked after administration of the Club's funds and responsibility for newsletters lay with Laurie Taylor until 1996 when Knut Anfindsen took on the administrative responsibilities , but this arrangement can be changed whenever members so decide. Organization of annual reunion dinners is delegated to club members who live near the conference venue.
The Club's administration has therefore changed over the years but the objective of remaining independent, promoting fellowship and honouring men who serve the profession of airline pilot – continue to be its motivation. Judging by the amount of correspondence received from members and the numbers attending annual reunions the Alpha Omega Club is likely to have a long life. Lawrie Arthur and Louis Zeyfert may not have known what they were starting in the 1960s but they should be pleased with what now exists – the Alpha Omega Club fulfils an important role in the social life of IFALPA and is a lasting tribute to two fine men.
The information in this brief history of the Alpha Omega Club comes from IFALPA documents, correspondence with Lawrie Arthur, Lars Blomberg and Hank Vermeulen and from memory