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tmb ellen churchIt was in 1930 that Boeing Airlines (later to become United Airlines) hired the first cabin attendant in commercial aviation.

The idea was born in the mind of a Boeing official who was on a rough flight from San Francisco to Reno N.V. The pilot and co-pilot were busy trying to keep the wings level, so the official took over the job of handing out coffee and sandwiches to anyone still able to swallow.

Why not, thought the official, hire stewards to perform this chore?

He passed his suggestion on to Boeing's top brass. But the brass were busy pondering another suggestion - this one from a young San Francisco named Ellen Church. She proposed that the airline hire nurses as flight attendants, because of the air sickness problem. Officials with Boeing Air Transport, the predecessor of United Airlines, went for her pitch, and agreed to hire eight women, conditionally, for a three-month experiment.


On this day, May 15, in 1930, Church and seven others began their first day of work as the country’s first flight attendants. Four flew from San Francisco to Cheyenne, Wyoming., and the other four flew from Cheyenne to Chicago.

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