Glamour In The Air
Airline Stewardess, Hostess and Flight Attendants. The profession is one of the most glamorized and celebrated in the world. To the modern air traveler, flight attendants in the cabin are as much a part of commercial aviation as pilots in the cockpit. The more than 335,000 Flight Attendants in the world today trace their lineage to eight plucky registered nurses, nicknamed “Sky Girls”, who took to the air on May 15, 1930. The reception they got from at least one veteran pilot was unenthusiastic. He called them’ flying nursemaids”, and said; “they should be kept in hospitals where they belong”. Most pilots readily accepted the women, and passengers were happy to have stewardesses aboard to serve them box lunches, and hold their heads and hands when air sickness and “white-knuckle” symptoms set in. Copilots previously had the task. In 1930, Boeing Air Transport, a United Airlines predecessor company, was planning to add stewards to the crew to look after passengers.Then along came Ellen Church, a nurse and student pilot who suggested women instead. Miss Church said to Steve Stimpson, District Manager of Boeing Air Transport – San Francisco; “Don’t you think that it would be good psychology to have women up in the air? How is a man going to say; “he is afraid to fly when a woman is working on the plane?” Stimpson agreed. The idea was approved, and Stimpson promptly hired Miss Church as Chief Stewardess. She immediately hired seven more nurses to split the 20-hour, 13-stop route between San Francisco and Chicago. Cheyenne was the Francisco-Cheyenne Route, and four on the Cheyenne-Chicago route. When Miss Church recruited a Stewardess, she had to be single, female, Registered Nurse, 25 years or under, 115 pounds or less and 5’4” or shorter. Today, the average age of United Airlines Flight Attendants is 44. Their height range from 5’2” to 6’0”, and they can be married with children. In the early years, Ellen Church experienced difficulty recruiting nurses to fly. Since then, Flight Attendants have been eulogized, glorified, glamorized, publicized and fictionalized.