Saturday Scenes

Thu 27 September 2012

The First Stewardess

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 23:04

On the 22nd of September 1904, Ellen Church was born in Cresco, Iowa. As a young girl, she watched aeroplanes perform at the country fair and decided that when she grew up, she would learn to fly. She studied nursing and worked at a hospital but she was able to fulfil her dream by taking flying lessons in her free time. She became a certified pilot.

She approached Boeing Air Transport hoping to be hired as a pilot but Boeing apparently would not consider female in that role. Not one to give up, she came up with a different angle: put nurses on planes to comfort passengers.

Airlines began passenger service in 1926, small planes carrying a two man flight crew and a dozen passengers. The co-pilot looked after the passengers and handed out box lunches, as well as comforting passengers who became frightened or airsick. Boeing Air Transport jumped at her offer and Ellen Church was hired as head stewardess. She recruited seven others to work with her.

PBS – Chasing the Sun – Ellen Church

The requirements for stewardesses in the 1930s were strict. In addition to being registered nurses, the women had to be single, younger than 25 years old; weigh less than 115 pounds; and stand less than 5 feet, 4 inches tall. The responsibilities of stewardesses in the early years were far from glamorous. In addition to accommodating the regular needs of passengers, stewardesses at times needed to haul the luggage on board, screw down loose seats, fuel planes, and even help pilots push planes into hangars. For their services, the first group of BAT stewardesses earned $125 a month.

In May of 1930, Ellen Church and her recruits offered the first flight attendant service on a Boeing 80A from Oakland/San Francisco to Chicago: a 20-hour journey with 13 stops and 14 passengers.

Meanwhile, on the 22nd of September, the following photographs were taken by high flyers all over the world:

And here are the amazing photographers who took them:

This Saturday, make sure to watch the @SatScenes 2012 list and you can see the photography as it happens! How cool is that?

If you want to get added to the list, just take part! Every Saturday, people share their photographs of their day, making the world that little bit smaller.

All you need to do is:

  1. Take a photo on a Saturday
  2. Send the link as a reply to @SatScenes on Twitter with the location
  3. Bask in the glory of representing your corner of the world

So what are you waiting for?

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