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The former Cannaday Farm location is where Roanoke Municipal Airport was established and, with a new name, still remains. Throughout the early s, many firsts occurred at the airport site, including construction of the first hangar and air traffic control tower. In , the City of Roanoke purchased the leased land, as well as some adjacent acreage, and American Airlines signed on as the first scheduled passenger airline providing service at the airport.
American Airlines also began airmail service to Roanoke and Western Virginia. By the end of s, the airport had become municipally operated, hired its first airport manager, built a paved runway and erected an additional hangar. Roanoke Municipal Airport was expanding, allowing Western Virginia to grow with the times. By , the airport boasted a total of pilots and 21 privately owned planes—more than any other airport in the state. This was also the year Roanoke Municipal Airport qualified as a National Defense Project, making federal funds eligible for airport use.
This new classification brought about many improvements, including the dedication of Woodrum Field in named after U. Congressman Clifton Woodrum, who assisted in the airport being chosen as a National Defense Project , the creation of an airfield lighting system and the addition of administrative buildings.
Eastern Airlines also began service to the area. By , Roanoke Municipal Airport had experienced its first jet landing — a Lockheed F — and in Piedmont Airlines became a service provider. In a new, modern terminal was completed. Susan Gutfreund, the second wife of John Gutfreund, the former C. The Sultan of Brunei, as you might expect, has an ex-stewardess wife.
On the one hand, stewardesses were placed on a pedestal; on the other hand, not to put too fine a point on it, they were pimped. Feminists would point out that this is a dual role that pre-dates in-flight movies which, by the way, were fleetingly introduced in the s.
Rehab that puts alcoholic pilots back in the cockpit
But what about feminists who also happen to have been stewardesses? One such is Patricia Ireland. A lawyer, she was the president of the National Organization for Women from to , but in the late 60s she had worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am. I look back now with awe at the blinders I had on, but it seemed to me at the time just the price of admission to the workplace in a job that was very exciting.
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Were stewardesses the first lipstick feminists? Their definition of liberation may have been full of contradictions; it may have been as much about glamour as it was self-determination; it may have bought into traditional notions of femininity with a rigor surpassing that of any cake-baking, Redbook -reading housewife of the era—it may have been feminism as only a Gabor sister could understand it. Still, you could do worse in charting what happened to women over the last 40 years than by examining the lives of stewardesses.
Most airlines have flight-attendant alumni organizations with chipper yet wistful names evoking age, or flightlessness, or both. If you attend a meeting or party given by one of these organizations, three things will happen. First, more than one still-slender, well-groomed woman in her 50s or 60s will ask if you need a drink. Second, you will meet at least one set of identical twins; ex-stewardess ranks are full of them. This is because airlines used to like twins the way farmers used to like pound zucchinis boffo photo op. And third, you will hear a lot of stories, and among them will be some common themes:.
Once upon a time, you may be told, boarding a plane was such an event that stewardesses took souvenir Polaroids of passengers as if they were sailing on an ocean liner or catching a dinner show. Once, there were planes with piano lounges. Once, a first-class meal might have included turtle soup served from a tureen, Chateaubriand carved seatside, and cherries jubilee. Steaks would be cooked to order—eggs, too, on breakfast flights. This is a world that, for obvious reasons, is even harder to conjure after September Carving knives on an airplane?
Going on an airplane was a special event. People get on wearing shower sandals and tank tops. And so they get what they pay for.
Northwest Airlines to laid-off workers: rummage through the trash
The old economy-class are now in first class. If the passengers formed an elite class, so too did the women passing out pillows and carving meat with cavalier innocence. According to popular mythology, the airlines had distinct preferences when it came to their stewardesses. American and United were said to go for the girl-next-door or fraternity-sweetheart type. National, Braniff, and Pacific Southwest, smaller airlines with southern centers of gravity, were allegedly staffed by high-octane sexpots.
Having survived the initial winnowing—aside from multiple interviews, the screening process might have included I.
The facilities could be quite lavish: some had swimming pools and tennis courts; some were actually on the grounds of resorts. Given that their female charges had been selected for pheromonal impact, the schools had unique security issues.
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Most came equipped with curfews and guards. If you can conceive of a cross between Acapulco and a P. Together Look: 1. Coat always buttoned; 2. Wear gloves; 3. Carry everything on one side if possible; 4.
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Northwest Flight , March 17, - MRK - Tell City,IN
Scarf in summer raincoat. At Braniff, false eyelashes were encouraged but not mandated. Perceptible jiggle meant failure—and a possible suspension. For those lacking seniority, scheduling was unpredictable and erratic. If women had enlisted to escape drudgery, they were disappointed to find plenty of it in the air.
And then there were the situations for which no amount of training could prepare one.
At some point the plane hit turbulence. It is said that one is statistically more likely to die crossing the street or driving to a supermarket than in an airplane accident. Whether or not you take comfort in that when boarding a plane, it was decidedly not the case in , when the first stewardesses in America, or anywhere else, were hired by Boeing Air Transport, a forerunner of United Airlines. It was also hoped that the fact that stewardesses were women would have a galvanizing effect on male passengers—not in the Coffee, Tea or Me? En route, she might have had to restrain passengers from throwing garbage and cigarette butts out open windows.
These were not the glamour days that ex-stewardesses are so fond of talking about. By the s, after the introduction of faster, safer, and pressurized planes, flying had evolved into a much less dodgy proposition; passenger complaints now had more to do with lost luggage than with getting killed.
At some point during the decade, the number of air passengers in America first exceeded those who traveled by train; in , a similar tipping point came for transatlantic crossings by air versus sea. In those days, commercial aviation was highly regulated. Among other things, the government dictated where and when the airlines could fly and how much they could charge; on transatlantic flights even the amount of legroom and the number and type of courses that could constitute a meal were prescribed by international agreement. With innovation so creatively discouraged, there were few ways for airlines to distinguish themselves.
This was when industry leaders began to realize that the very femaleness of stewardesses was a marketable asset. Through the s and 40s, many airlines had preferred hiring male stewards, partly in emulation of train and ocean-liner service. It was, perhaps, a largely symbolic gesture, given that the average stewardess flew for only two years anyway, most of them quitting in order to get married—a high turnover rate that would last into the s.
She got the conversation rolling by admiring his uniform. By the early 60s all the major carriers were flying jets on their most significant routes. A made the same trip in a little over five hours. For those who could afford it, jet travel made the world accessible in a way we now take for granted—and have maybe even begun to fear a bit—but was intoxicating at the time.