By Nicoleta Gherman, Founder, and Trainer
Since the career of cabin crew appeared in 1912, male flight attendants have also been known as stewards or air host and females as stewardesses. In the 1920s, airlines were hiring nurses to work as air hostesses. Nowadays, cabin crew are also called flight attendants and are specially trained to ensure the safety of a flight, passenger safety being their foremost concern.
1912 – Heinrich Kubis was the world’s first flight attendant. Yes, a male was the first crew caring for passengers on a Zeppelin LZ-10. He started working for Delag airline, in Germany, in March 1912.
She trained other nurses to become flight attendant. These seven nurses were called The Sky Girls.
1934 – Nelly Hedwig Diener was the first air stewardess in Europe working for Swissair on an AT-32C Condor II aircraft.
1940 – Virginia Schroeder was another flight attendant flying in 1940 on a United Mainliner.
Also around this period, Edith Lauterbach was the first flight attendants organizing the first union for equal rights in the sky.
Also a well-known are 9 cabin crew from the same airline, who were sent to a London modeling school in 1960. Between them was Esther Botchway.
1946 – The first flight that took off from Spain with flight attendants on board was an Iberia plane crossing the Atlantic to Buenos Aires and having several stops. The four flight attendants were Marichin Ruiz de Gamiz, Anita Marsans, Maria Jose Ugarte and Mascias Pilar.
1948 – Sweeney Ward was one of the first air hostesses for TWA.
1955 – Elena Viorica Hutan was the first Romanian flight attendant.
She received a cabin crew attestation and started working on a Li2 aircraft.
1955 – Rose Wou and Lily Ning
Both of them started as trainees and were hired to fly for British Overseas Airways Corporation.
1957 – Ruth Carol Taylor was the first African-American cabin crew hired in the US by Mohawk Airlines in December 1957. She was a US nurse and was selected from 800 black applicants, after being rejected by Trans World Airline because of her race.
1958 – Margaret Grant, 21 years old, was the first African-American flight attendant hired by TWA in Kansas City. However, after it was discovered that she has a blood malady, a condition of the blood common mostly known that time appearing only on black persons, her training was canceled. Doctors said that the sick problem could have damaged her spleen at high altitude.
A few months later on, Patricia Banks started her work with Capital Airlines.
1964 – Reeta Roy working for Air-India, also won the title of Miss International Air Hostess.
Christine Longthorp was on 2nd place and Linda Stafford on the 3rd.
Two years later, Mrs. Panter represented Ansett Airlines in the Miss International Air Hostess Quest in Surfers Paradise.
1965 – Momi Gul Durrani was one of the first legendary cabin crew and the face of Pakistan International Airline.
She lost her life when PIA crashed at Cairo, on their inaugural flight.
1970’s – Some of the famous cabin crew working for different airlines during the early days of commercial aviation are also Carla Thompson working for TAA, Monica Gilbert, Monica Fernandez and Avenell Divers working for Air India.
Anne Creech was a cabin crew for BOAC June Argent and Susan Cramsie was flying for BEA airline.
Jennifer Cane, Rosemary England, Trina Brown, Pamela Gliddon, Christine Limpus and Pamela Larsen were working in the early days of Qantas Air as hostesses.
Swedish stewardess Birgitta Lindman flew for SAS airline.
Let’s also not forget some of the other air hostesses: Kathleen Dyer, Purser Pat Reynolds, Katherine Araki, Mary Ellen Daniel.
1972 – Vesna Vulovic, by was a 22 years old flight attendant with Yugoslav Airlines on January 26th, when flight JAT367 operated on a DC-9. It was en route from Stockholm to Belgrade when a bomb exploded while the aircraft was at 33,330 ft. Miss Vulovic was in the tail section and fell on the ground, on a slope of snow-covered mountains. She was the only survivor among other 28 passengers and 5 crew. She broke both legs, was paralyzed from the waist down and fell into a coma for 27 days. She recovered in 17 months and continued to work with the same airline for 20 more years. According to Guinness Book of Records, she holds the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute – 10,160 meters.