06.04.2018 Uncategorized No Comments

Ellen Church first ever flight attendant, 1930. Boeing Air Transport, Predecessor of United Airlines

Ellen Church, left, and Virginia Schroeder in front of a 12-ton United Mainliner in May 1940. Ms. Church’s 1930 trip as the first airline stewardess ever was so successful that United Airlines placed attendants on all of its coast-to-coast flights.

Applicants had to be less than 25 years old, less than 5 feet 4 inches tall and less than 115 pounds. The job was strenuous, after all: The planes were small, and the flight — from San Francisco/Oakland to Chicago – took 20 hours and made 13 stops in good weather.

Ellen Church was a licensed pilot and a registered nurse from Iowa. When she realized she had no chance of flying the aircraft herself, she convinced the head of Boeing Air Transport’s San Francisco office that having female stewardesses aboard could help ease anxieties.

Boeing hired eight women – all nurses, “to give passengers an even greater sense of security,” The Times later noted. The so-called Original Eight took flight on this day in 1930, and Ms. Church, 25, became the world’s first airline stewardess.

Ms. Church had initially persuaded Boeing, a forerunner of United Airlines, to hire the stewardesses for three months. She flew for another year and a half and later went on to join the Army Nurse Corps during World War II, receiving the Air Medal and other honors for her distinguished service. She died in 1965.

 

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