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75 years of smiles in the aisles

Mar 16, 2015

Celebrating 75 years since the first Delta flight attendant took to the skies! Travel back with us to that first service in 1940. 













Birdie Perkins (later Birdie Perkins Bomar) was Delta’s first flight attendant,  then called a stewardess. She took flight from Atlanta to Ft Worth on March 16, 1940. Her passengers included C.E. Woolman, Delta’s founding CEO, and Laura Wizark, Delta’s first flight attendant instructor. 

Birdie Perkins was one of 10 adventurous young nurses hired that year to serve passengers on a fleet of four  Douglas DC-2s flying between Atlanta and Ft. Worth with stops along the way. The stewardess was one of three crew members, and the DC-2 could accommodate 14 passengers.

UNIFORM: The first flight attendant uniform was a navy blue winter outfit from Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta. The beige summer uniform was purchased from Neiman-Marcus in Dallas.

MENU: In 1940, in-flight meals were boxed lunches of Southern fried chicken or ham and yams. Cheese, crackers and peanuts were available when no meal was served. Customers could also enjoy bottles of Coca-Cola on board. No printed menus were issued.

FLIGHT ATTENDANT REQUIREMENTS: Flight attendants were required to be single women (never married) between 21 and 26 years old who were registered nurses. They had to stand between 5’ and 5’6” tall, weigh 100 to 120 pounds, and they could not wear glasses or contacts. A clear complexion, pleasing personality and high moral character were also required. The registered nurse requirement was dropped during World War II due to military demand for nurses.

TRAINING: The first class of flight attendants was trained by Laura Wizark, Delta’s pioneer stewardess. The two-week training included instruction in food service, ticketing, scheduling, passenger relations and meteorology. 

Congratulations, to all Delta's current and former flight attendants on 75 years of service in style! 

Marie Force

Director - Archives

3 Comments

  1. 3 Sharon Goscinski 01 Aug
    I have lots of items dating from 1961-2003 that the museum might like to have. The best might be the leather coat from the Edith Head uniform, though it's not in perfect condition ( the lining is damaged and a button missing from the sleeve).  How about paperwork? I have a ton of green and white pay statements, recalling everywhere I flew from 1961 to 1966.    Would appreciate your comments. Thanks 
  2. 2 Mary Ellen "elly" Davis 16 Mar
    PLEASE let the specific group know on their web site when you are having a celebration such as the 75th Anniversary today.  A notice on the IFS web page would have a lot more attendance if you let us know at least a week in advance.  I live 4 hours away and now cannot get there in time to enjoy the celebration.  Don't keep all the fun to yourself.
  3. 1 AirlineGuys 16 Mar

    This is AWESOME! As for Flight Attendants we really enjoyed this post!

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