Once upon a time, air travel was exciting.
Transatlantic flights were novel, and passengers often dressed to the nines – — a far cry from the sweatpants-and-flip-flops travel wardrobes of today. Aviators like Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Howard Hughes were national heroes, and airline stewardesses were considered to have some of the most glamorous jobs in the world.
Air travel today has its benefits. Flights are faster and more frequent, go to more places, and we’re able to dress more casually. But many people feel a certain nostalgia for the days when all air travel was considered luxury travel and people behaved as such.
We rounded up 25 great photos that exemplify the glamour and excitement of early air travel.
December 17, 1903 - Orville Wright maneuvers the Wright Flyer as it makes its first flight ever over Kitty Hawk, NC. The plane, made of wood, wire, and cloth, traveled 120 feet and flew for 12 seconds.
1927 - A young Charles Lindbergh stands next to the Spirit of St. Louis, which he famously flew from Roosevelt Island all the way to Paris.
June 26, 1928 - 'Aviatrix' Amelia Earhart arrives in Southampton, England after flying the 'Friendship' from Burry Point, Wales.
December 19, 1936 - One of the first male stewards on a domestic airline makes a passenger comfortable at Newark Airport.
A Boeing B-314 known as the 'California Clipper' departs from Treasure Island in San Francisco (date unknown).
October 16, 1958 - First Lady Mamie Eisenhower and Pan Am Chairman Juan Trippe christen the Boeing 707-121, the plane that inaugurated the commercial jet age for the United States with its flight from New York to Paris.
January 1959 - A fashion show took place 30,000 feet above New York aboard this American Airlines jetliner.
September 8, 1959 - A Pan Am Boeing 707, the first American-built jet airliner to land in Britain, lands in London. 10 crew members and 23 passengers made the historic trip from New York.
1964 - Coretta Scott King (second from the right) and Dr. Martin Luther King's parents and sister board a plane to London to see Dr. King receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
December 2, 1964 - Pope Paul VI rides from Rome to Bombay to attend the International Eucharistic Congress on an Air-India four-jet airliner.
1967 - An American Airlines stewardess models her new uniform, a blue knit washable stretch dress with matching belt and hair bow. The skirt was allowed to be a scandalous 2-to-3 inches above the knee.
April 15, 1972 - a 26-year-old male flight attendant (a rare bird) offers a passenger her choice of beverages on a flight over Chicago.
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