Former employees, executives remember Midwest Airlines at reunion

CREATED Jul 13, 2014 - UPDATED: Jul 13, 2014

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WEST ALLIS - It says a lot about company when former employees and their families will come to Wisconsin from all over the world to see each other.

Former Midwest Airlines employees gathered at Greenfield Park on Saturday. This summer marks what would have been the beloved company's 30th anniversary.

"We worked with these people everyday, closely with these people," said former captain Mark Ward. "They were great people to work with."

It was a chance to reminisce about the good old days of Midwest Airlines service and baked on-board chocolate chip cookies.

Many still refer to the company by its original name, Midwest Express. Travelers miss "the best care in the air" and, more importantly, non-stop niche routes from Milwaukee that may never return.

"One of things we focused on 30 years ago was providing non-stop service to lots of markets," the company longtime CEO Tim Hoeksema told TODAY'S TMJ4 photojournalist Mark Was. "It's sad to see that change. It's difficult to get that back."

This corporate video posted on YouTube features late TODAY'S TMJ4 anchor John McCullough and provides a nostalgic look at the company.

In it's final years, Midwest fought off a takeover attempt by AirTran. It was a 'save the cookie' success. But, the company would be sold and absorbed into the Frontier Airlines brand. Frontier now operates just a few daily flights out of Milwaukee.

Southwest is currently the top carrier at Mitchell International Airport.

What's left of Midwest Airlines? The memories.

"This was the best 26 years of my life and my wife's life," former captain Dave Phipps said. "We just thoroughly, in the prime of our lives, we enjoyed the company."

The last true Midwest Airlines flight landed in Milwaukee in 2009.