The World’s First Flight Attendant

The world’s first flight attendant was a man, but he didn’t work on an airplane — he worked on a zeppelin. Heinrich Kubis began his career as a flight attendant before any fixed-wing airliner was large enough to carry passengers and 18 years before Ellen Church of United Airlines became the world’s first airline stewardess. Kubis worked for the German airline DELAG and began caring for passengers in March of 1912 on the zeppelin Schwaben. Unfortunately, Kubis also worked on the Hindenburg, and was actually in the dining room of the zeppelin when it burst into flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6, 1937. When the Hindenburg sank close enough to the ground, Kubis encouraged passengers and crew to jump from the windows, after which he also jumped to safety. Kubis landed without injury, and later testified at the Hindenburg disaster inquiry. He then returned to Germany, where he lived until his death in 1979.