Fly girls: a history of China's stewardesses Published: 2015-6-9 15:54:56

Two stewardesses of the first crew of the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) stand in a plane cabin in September, 1947. China trained its first batch of stewardesses in 1938. Founded in 1929 in cooperation with US-based Curtiss-Wright Corporation, CNAC was China’s first commercial airline. Photo: Xinhua


Two flight attendants stand in front of a CNAC airplane. In the 1940s, CNAC and Central Air Transport Corporation employed no more than a few dozen flight attendants. Two attendants would be assigned to large aircraft such as the C-200, while other planes had only one. Photo: Xinhua


Recruitment standards for airline stewardess were stringent. Chinese newspaper Shun Pao (1872-1949) reported that applicants then should be between 1.5 to 1.7 meters tall, weigh 40 t0 59 kilograms, and speak Putonghua, Cantonese, and English. Photo: Xinhua


The first CNAC flight crew attends class at a training center in September, 1947. Up until January 1938, CNAC only employed a total six stewardesses. Photo: Xinhua


Airline stewardesses stand in front of an airplane in the 1940s. Photo: Xinhua


Two CNAC stewardesses pose for a photo at Shanghai’s Longhua Airport in September, 1946. Photo: Xinhua


At CNAC’s height in 1948, the airline employed no more than 30 flight attendants. Photo: Xinhua


The first batch of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) stewardesses attend to former premier Zhou Enlai in 1956. Photo: Xinhua


A group of ‘Red Stewardess,’ as dubbed by Ex-Chairman Mao Zedong, surround former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai in the cabin of an airplane. Photo: Xinhua


CAAC was part of China’s Air Force in the 1970s. Its air crew uniforms were simple in design compared with international airlines at the time. Photo: Xinhua


It was CAAC policy in 1975 to give passengers aboard any international a free bottle of Moutai, a high-end Chinese liquor. That courtesy later changed to free-flow Moutai during their journey. The policy was phased out at the end of the 1980s. Photo: Xinhua


Air China was formally founded on July 1, 1988 in a ceremony at The Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The event marked the first time CAAC and Chinese stewardesses entered the international airline market. Photo: Xinhua


Posted in: China

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