From the Hangars

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


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  1. Diane Rodefeld Stepp | Sep 09, 2023
    The stewardess in the photo is my mother Alba Catherine “Bunny” Turner Rodefeld . She is serving Delta executive Hugh Saxon. His wife was Barbara Saxon, friends of the family for many years. I recall playing with their son. They may have  also been early residents if Mrs. Campbell’s apartments in Hapeville along with Margie and Dickie Lee, another Delta family from the airline’s earliest years. MMy parents were Bunny and Kelly (Lester George) Rodefeld — Diane Rodefeld Stepp
  2. Richie Bayne | Sep 01, 2020

    i just retired August 01 and it was the hardest 

    thing I ever done in my entire life I refer to Delta 

    as our beloved Delta i always tell everyone when
    God created the stars to light the heavens he made

    one star in the shape of a widget and that star is 

    the light if our beloved Delta and it will light the

    sky for ever. All the other airlines do not hold a

    candle to our beloved Delta our beloved Delta will

    rule the sky for ever.

    Richie Bayne Ambassador for Delta Air Lines

    Atlanta Ga.


  3. Sharon Goscinski | Aug 01, 2015
    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 
  4. Mary Ellen "elly" Davis | Mar 16, 2015
    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.
  5. AirlineGuys | Mar 16, 2015

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

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