Ellen Church

Nurse, Deceased Person

1904 – 1965


Who was Ellen Church?

Ellen Church was the first female flight attendant.

Church was born in Cresco, Iowa. After graduating from Cresco High School, Church studied nursing and worked in a San Francisco hospital. She was a pilot and a registered nurse. Steve Stimpson, the manager of the San Francisco office of Boeing Air Transport, would not hire her as a pilot, but did pass along her suggestion to put nurses on board airplanes to calm the public's fear of flying. In 1930, BAT hired Church as head stewardess, and she recruited seven others for a three-month trial period.

The stewardesses, or "sky girls" as BAT called them, had to be registered nurses, "single, younger than 25 years old; weigh less than 115 pounds [52 kg]; and stand less than 5 feet, 4 inches tall [1.63 m]". In addition to attending to the passengers, they were expected to, when necessary, help with hauling luggage, fueling and assisting pilots to push the aircraft into hangars. However, the salary was good: $125 a month.

Church became the first stewardess to fly. On May 15, 1930, she embarked on a Boeing 80A for a 20-hour flight from Oakland/San Francisco to Chicago with 13 stops and 14 passengers.

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Sep 22, 1904
  • United States of America
  • University of Minnesota
Aug 22, 1965
Terre Haute

on July 23, 2013


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