On this day in 1930 Ellen (Marshall) Church became the world’s first airline stewardess. In 1928 she approached Boeing Air Transport hoping to become their first female pilot. She was denied the job, but Boeing liked her idea of placing nurses on the planes to help ease the fear of flying among passengers. In 1930 they hired 8 nurses, known as the Sky Girls, for a three month trial. Church was chosen to be the world’s first flight attendant serving passengers aboard a 12 hour flight from Chicago to Oakland, CA.
The presence of nurses on flights quelled the fear of flying in the public and air travel became more popular. Soon other airlines followed the lead of BAT and hired nurses as flight attendants. In addition to being a nurse, flight attendants had to be single and under the age of 25. Cabins were small so the flight attendants could be no taller than 5 feet 4 inches and no heavier than 115 pounds. In addition to attending to the needs of passengers, flight attendants hauled luggage, fueled planes and pushed planes into hangars.
After jump-starting the flight attendant profession, Church returned to clinical nursing. During World War II she returned to the air, this time as a captain in the army nurse corps. She was awarded the Air Medal for her wartime heroics. She returned to the states and continued her nursing career in Terre Haute, IN until the time of her death in 1965.
In honor of Ellen Church and all the Sky Girls past and present, cheers!
1.5 oz Gin
.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Shake with ice and strain into your favorite vintage cocktail glass!