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May 15, 1930: The Skies Get a Little Bit Friendlier

•, By Tony Long
 Church, a registered nurse from Iowa, was so enamored of flying that she became a certified pilot. She approached BAT (the forerunner of United Airlines) looking for a pilot’s job, a futile hope for women in those days. But the BAT exec did like Church’s other suggestion: that commercial airliners carry nurses on board.

Smelling a publicity coup, and figuring that on-board nurses would help quell the public’s fear — very real at the time — of flying, he sold her proposal to the boys at the top. BAT hired eight nurses, including Church, for what it thought would be a three-month experiment.

These weren’t just any nurses, though.

Even then, there were strict physical requirements for what BAT referred to as “sky girls.” In addition to being a registered nurse, the successful candidate had to be single, under 25, no taller than 5-feet-4, and she could weigh no more than 115 pounds. And although it wasn’t written down anywhere, the prospective stewardess had to be attractive, at least to the guy doing the hiring.

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