Betty Driver extracted this from the Leader-Post issue May 2nd 1974.
Oh! For the good old days, when flying was just a word.
Annette Donovan, a stewardess on Air Canada's first commercial flight 35 years ago, remembers the event was not exactly an overwhelming success. The 10-passenger, twin-prop Lockheed left Montreal for Toronto with stops at Ottawa and North Bay, Ont. When the aircraft reached Ottawa, the airline, then Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) - had put the passengers on a train because a blizzard closed the North Bay and Toronto fields. The plane arrived in Toronto 13 hours after leaving Montreal. "I was not disappointed," she said in an interview, "It was pioneering - something new to all of us. "At that time people weren't particularly air-minded, flying still was just a word. When faced with the reality of going on a flight it must have been a bit frightening - which explained why some men would take a good belt of liquor just before boarding."
Some took a little too much so TCA made it a rule that if the passenger was too drunk the stewardess could discuss it with the captain and refuse to take them.
The inaugural flight was April 1st 1939, and Mrs Donovan, then Annette Brunelle and a native of Montreal, just managed to inch her way on board. The airline doctor said she was an inch too short of the minimum regulation height of four feet, 11 inches when she applied for the job. "What difference does it make?" she told the doctor, "They'll take me anyway." Two days later they did after noting she met the rest of the qualifications - being a registered nurse, single, bilingual and being under 125 pounds. She later vindicated the airline's judgement by being the only one of 10 nurses who didn't get sick during a rough training flight over the Rockies. There was no oxygen and the cabin was not pressurized in those days. And there were some frightening moments in the air, she recalled.
Once the plane dropped hundreds of feet in an air pocket near North Bay. In another the engine quit over Lake Ontario. There was the time the aircraft was caught in a lightning storm before it could gain altitude over New York City". "We were nearly forced down into the skyscrapers," said Mrs Donovan, "That's when I decided I had a pretty good career and didn't care to stretch it."