Aeroplane Monthly September 2009

Glamour In the Skies

The Girls don’t get much of a look-in in aviation literature, so this book recalling the golden age of the air stewardess is welcome. The period covered is 1936 to 1980 and is based on “stews” who served with British Airways and its predecessors.  Teh author interviewed many people and recorded them on tapes and discs, and in letters and telephone calls.

BOAC’s first air hostess began operations on May 10, 1943, in a de Havilland Albatross from Bristol to Shannon. By 1950 the stewardess role had been firmly established and attractive girls in uniform were part of this and many other airline’s advertising.

As an example of those days, the girls’ salary was £4 a week with no overseas allowances. Their equipment on Avro Lancastrians and Yorks consisted of huge thermos flasks of soup etc, plus plates for hot meals and fruit salads. Soda siphons and saucepans completed the kit. Flight times had no limitations and were mostly around 12hr.

Pilot recollections are given for various types of aircraft flown by BOAC, from DC-3s to Concorde, and there is, rather surprisingly, an appendix listing aircraft disasters, fortunately not fatal. Other appendices give the old and new phonetic alphabets and a timeline of BOAC and its predecessors.

The Golden Age of the air stewardess has gone, but many of those who experienced it considered it the most wonderful time of their lives. This delightful book will please anyone interested in airline history, with its many stories of a changing world seen through the eyes of the “stew”. Well done girls!

***** (Five Stars- Absolutely Outstanding) Mike Hooks

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