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Delta Stories: 1940s In-Flight Service

Aug 28, 2014

Celebrating 85 years of Delta service! Here are memories from Sybil Peacock Harmon, one of Delta’s first flight attendants in 1940. 


“I Felt Like a Little Celeb”

“This was so new to people . . . On Sundays they would come out to the airport and line the fence - whole families, and when you would walk up to the plane in your uniform, the kids would say, ‘Look, there she is. There is the stewardess.’ And you felt like a little celeb of some sort. It was a lot of fun.”

Training
“The very first morning we met, we started right away learning weather and what our duties were on the plane [Douglas DC-2] and . . . where we were going to fly, the different cities, and you had to learn the codes for those cities.  In those days they were two letters and now they are three.”

In-Flight Work
“One of our duties was to pass out the chewing gum because planes then weren’t pressurized and it helped passengers swallow so they would not have problems with their ears. . .

I never did use my nursing skills on the flights [all Delta's first flight attendants were registered nurses], but many passenger suffered from airsickness from no air conditioning and pressurization. The airsickness container in those days was a quart ice cream container and it fit in a little round ring under the seat, so you wanted to get that out in plenty of time. 

Most of the customers we had in the beginning were businessmen and you got to know them real well because you would see them over and over. But this was the beginning, really, of people flying — an emergency would come up, somebody would be sick or somebody would die, and people would get on a flight . . .  But this started people to flying because they realized how quick it was - it was quick for those days, anyway.”

2 Comments

  1. 2 Nancy Murphy 29 Jan

    This beautiful flight attendent is my Aunt Sybil!  I'm proud of you Aunt Sybil!  My mother, Jimmie Peacock Davis, was also a flight attendent for Delta!!

  2. 1 Karen Robbins 30 Aug

    My Dad was a Delta pilot 1956 - 1987.  In his early days of flying he told stories about the crew would have layovers in small cities that had no hotels.  The pilots slept on the front of the plane and the flight attendants slept in the rear of the plane, sometimes laying in the aisle. I wish he were here to tell us more stories!! 

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