Tuesday, January 12, 2016


January 25, 1959

Norman Rice, Marilyn Rutkowski, Edna Garrett, Captain Charles Macatee, Argie Hoskins,Captain Lou Szabo, Claire Bullock, Bill Duncan

Captain Macatee, Stewardess Argie Hoskins, Captain Szabo

Design by Phillip Nicholson

Design by Phillip Nicholson

I have been very busy doing public relations for American.
I went with one of the American Airlines sales representatives
to meet and deliver models of the 707 to
VIPs in the LA area: President of a Stock Exchange,
President and Vice President of California Bank,
President of Citizen’s Bank, leading advertising businesses,
and President of Pacific Mutual.
This day was very exhilarating as we made our way down Spring Street,
the “Wall Street of the West.” I was awestruck by the historical buildings and
the beauty, strength, unity, and dignity of their architecture.


Mr. Scroggins, an American Airlines representative,
and I met with Mayor Paulson, the publisher
of the L. A. Times, and many individuals, such
as the President of Southern California Edison
Co., and others who would be on the Inaugural
Flight. I am lucky to be on the Inaugural flight!


Today, I drove to Huntington Park to meet Mr.
Hall, a sales manager for American Airlines. From
there we drove to Fullerton to meet Dr. Arnold
of Beckman Scientific Instruments, who was a
pioneer in his field.

To this day, I remember the generosity and kindness of Dr. Beckman. He
and I connected in a very special way. Me, a girl from Animas Valley! He and
his wife, Mabel, were the “real” thing. The California Institute of Technology
(Cal Tech) alumni association has this short bio about Dr. Beckman:

Arnold O. Beckman, chairman emeritus of the Cal Tech Board of Trustees,
and founder of Beckman Instruments, Inc., achieved international
recognition for his accomplishments in industry, science, education, and
civic affairs, founding his company in 1935 with the development of a
pH meter that has become an indispensable tool for analytical chemists.
Beckman saw his firm become a major international manufacturer
of instruments and related products for medicine, science, industry,
environmental technology, and many other fields.

Back to Huntington Park to dinner with Jay
Dickie and then to Pasadena to meet Sidney
Small. We went to Jet Propulsion Laboratory and
met with the Nuclear Physics core staff of our
country, including Dr. William Pickering.

In 1958, as Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Dr. Pickering
led the successful effort to place the first U. S. satellite, Explorer 1, into Earth’s
orbit. The Cal Tech Speech Reference Collection has this to say about the JPL
and Dr. Pickering:

In January 1959, JPL was assigned the responsibility for the robotic
exploration of the moon and planets. Under Pickering’s direction,
JPL supervised the Ranger missions returning the first close-up, high-
resolution pictures of the lunar surface; he also supervised the Surveyor
soft-landers on the Moon; the Mariner missions to Mars and Venus; and
the first gravity assist mission to Mercury, via Venus.

The JPL also designed the Viking Orbiters to Mars and designed and built
the Voyager spacecraft for their mission to the outer planets.

Along with Dr. Pickering was Dr. Al Hibbs, a
physicist, Dr. Val Larsen, Dr. Frank Goddard
who was the California Scientist of the Year,
and a number others of the team. I presented
Dr. Pickering and Dr. Larsen with a miniature
Boeing 707 model.

The Cal Tech Reference Collection says this about Dr. Goddard:

Alumnus Frank E. Goddard Jr. (PhD ‘57), assistant director for research and
development at Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory received the NASA
Exceptional Service Medal for outstanding performance in advancing the
technology of automated spacecraft design.

After pictures, we journeyed on to see a Dr. Fay
who is a teacher at Cal Tech.

It is amazing that I brushed shoulders with these busy and very involved


For our jet flight, we stayed in class all day long.
We had our food service procedures today, which
meant checking the buffet area for all needed
items, what to turn on, what to turn off, all the
food and beverage items for the flight including
table clothes, wine and food menus, cocktail napkins,
stirrers in preparation for a several course
dining experience with special appetizers, salad,
entree, dessert, and fruit candy.

If something was missing, we needed to know who to contact. Prior to that
Friday we had been briefed on the emergency procedures.


I went to the airport; we finally got on the
jet after much delay. What an exciting day! I
remember the feelings which flowed over me as I
walked onto the aircraft. Thinking, “This is the
real thing.” Had my hair cut and fixed by Mr.
Reid, very pleased. Came home after appointment
and got ready for the flight.

This was the first time I had been on a real 707. We had practiced and been
trained in a 707 mock-up. I was overwhelmed with its size. It was almost half
the length of a football field. Knowing the next day would be the big one, I
felt adrenaline rush through my being bringing an electrifying thrill.

On January 25, 1959, American Airlines became the first airline to offer
coast-to-coast jet service with the Boeing 707. On this historic flight, I was
treated like a celebrity, being one of four stewardesses picked out of more than
2,000. It seemed as if the whole population was thrilled to be riding on the jet.


Claire and I got up at 5:30, dressed, had a bite
to eat, and went out to the airport an hour and
a half before the flight departure. While we were
being debriefed, a newspaper man took our pictures.

We boarded our aircraft and while having our pre-
flight check, we had Governor Brown and Mrs.
Pat Brown, Red Moiser (an American Airlines
Executive), President C. R. Smith, Miss Jane
Wyman, and Mr. and Mrs. Hill plus others stroll
through the plane. Mrs. Brown christened the
plane, “Flagship California,” with speeches by
Governor Brown and C. R. Smith.

Not only was the event impressive, but Flagship California was graceful,
sleek, and absolutely gorgeous with open hospitality for all who entered her
doors. In her resplendent beauty she was far more than a ticket.

At this point Claire Bullock, who was my roommate
and one of the jet stewardesses, was
standing in the front of the craft. She was from
the South and a totally dedicated fan of Elvis
Presley. As she was standing in front of the
plane, Elvis’s agent handed her a photo of Elvis
to accompany us on the first jet flight. Claire
was thrilled. In different locations on the plane,
bouquets of yellow and lavender flowers welcomed
our guests. Oh yes, the stewardesses received
orchids to wear. The entire flight was made up of
very influential and successful people; newspaper
people and cameramen, plus other
wonderful passengers. Passengers
were milling from one cabin
to the other, Mercury to Coach.
It was like a press conference
and confusing for me. The task
at hand was to serve our passengers
beverage and food with first
class service in a very informal
atmosphere as one big happy family. I gave Miss
Wyman my flight topper to wear, that being the
dress we wore during the food service. Everyone
was having a grand time up in the “dream of
sunshine and clouds.” It was a magnificent experience
and lots of hard work.

A memorable highlight of the day was when I met President C. R. Smith as
he walked the aisle during the flight. One could feel the strength of his character.
He had the skill of looking you in the eye and connecting with you on
a level which left you feeling like you were important to American Airlines. I
knew that he appreciated me as a stewardess.

I remember giving Jane Wyman my flight topper to wear, and she was
filmed while she had it on. Flight toppers were worn while serving a meal. We
had our choice as a crew to either wear or not wear the topper. It made a more
appropriate dress for the food service if we did, though. One of the important
reasons for the cover-up was that it kept the uniform clean. It was flattering
to me that Miss Wyman wore the same size as I wore. She was very pleasant
to be around. In the movie Three Guys Named Mike, she played the part of an
American Airline stewardess.
On the passenger list, Mr. G. Wright was listed as 89 years old; I think that
made him the oldest person on the inaugural flight. Mr. and Mrs. L. Barnett
brought their little son who was two and a half years old, making him the
youngest passenger.

Also on the flight was Dr. Arthur L. Klein, an aeronautical engineer and
legend designer. Dr. Clark Millikan was also on board. He was one of the
nation’s foremost pioneers in aerospace research and development. He was
also a pioneer in the development of multi-engine, high-altitude airplanes, jet
propulsion, and guided missiles. I had this gentleman on an earlier flight, and
I had enjoyed his friendliness and his usual enthusiasm for his projects. In the
1950s a new facet of aeronautics came into view with the ideas of satellites and
spacecraft, and he worked right at the forefront of these ideas. I had met him
a second time on a PR assignment, and now this flight was my third meeting
with him. It was always exciting to meet people over and over.

We arrived in New York 4 hours and 3 minutes
later. A band was playing when we opened the
door and bright lights were shining with people
taking pictures. Our debriefing after the flight
was interesting. We are helping work out all the
things which need to be changed with the Boeing
707 stewardess procedural operations. We were so
tired, Claire and I said, “Never again.”

The flight was overwhelming; however, our training kept us calm and
poised. We had the knowledge to be self-sufficient and to make decisions that
affected our passengers. In a crisis we could rise above the everyday requirements
of passenger service. We were tired yes, but we were prepared. After a
good night’s sleep, we put in our bids to work the 707 flights again and again.

The Astrojet News published an interview with Captain Macatee 10 years
after the inaugural flight. In it, he says that piloting this flight “was and had
to be his biggest thrill in 30 years of flying.”

The preparations had begun years before. “Paper jets” had begun “flying”
daily New York–Los Angeles and Chicago–Dallas trips in July 1958.

But the big moment was 8:45 a.m. Pacific Coast Time Sunday, Jan. 25, 1959.

With Capt. Macatee at the controls, First Officer (now captain) Lou Szabo
beside him, and 112 passengers aboard, American’s first Jet Flagship lifted off
Runway 25L, at Los Angeles International Airport and headed for New York.


It was commercial aviation’s first transcontinental jet flight, a flight that
brought east and west coasts three hours closer together and revolutionized
an airline, an industry and the nation’s transportation system.

“We got off 20 minutes late because of the ceremonies at Los Angeles.
But we were fortunate enough to catch tailwinds that at times were in excess
of 150 knots. We arrived at New York on schedule, exactly four hours
and 3 minutes after takeoff.” . . .

Hundreds of people, including a 25-piece brass band, turned out at
Idlewild to welcome the first transcon jet. Newsmen, government officials and movie stars were aboard,
including actress Jane Wyman (“who for some reason I kept calling Mrs.
Lyman,” Captain Macatee recalled).

C. R. Smith, also aboard, told AAers in a special issue of Flagship News to
“take a bow to history, for you are a part of it today. The piston-engined
airplane will retain our affection, for it has done so much for us and for air
transportation. Today, we have a new area of expectation, for the bright
promise of what the turbine-powered airport will bring lies ahead of us.”

In the article Captain Macatee also reflected upon the historical significance of
this first transcontinental jet flight. He and Captain H. C. Smith, who flew the
return trip, had flown the 707 without passengers for about 200 hours before this
historical flight with passengers. The article states that for Captain Macatee, this
flight was “biggest thrill in 30 years of flying,” and Captain Macatee concluded
his comments by saying that while he had many special memories of flying
“those four hours three minutes were the big ones for me. They always will be.”

Flagship California, my love!
Flagship California, my love!

707–123B N7503A, Flagship California, on her way to be scrapped. When I first saw this photo, it pulled at my heart strings. I cried tears of joy having known it
and tears of sadness that it’s gone. © Brian Lockett, Air-and-Space.com.

Passenger List for the First Jet Flight across the USA

These people were more than passengers. They quickly became friends as we shared this
historical moment in time. President C. R. Smith set the example as he strolled the aisle
connecting with the passengers with cheer and good wishes. I, also, felt the association as we
smoothly flew through the clouds of time. Time and space seemed to be flying through another
dimension. Through the years it has been my pleasure to continue or renew some of these
honored relationships.
My roommates and I all jumped at a chance to fly together. So we put in
our bids for the same jet trip to New York as often as possible. Our togetherness
created an atmosphere of fun, warmth, and love. Lucky passengers!
When the jet age in United States transcontinental air travel dawned on
January 25 with the flight of an American Airlines Boeing 707 from Los
Angeles to New York, the household probably most directly affected was
that of a “family” of four stewardesses who live in a bungalow in West Los
Since that flight, the four stewardesses have been averaging some 40,000
miles of jet travel a week from Los Angeles to New York and back. Their
experience in these early days of jet travel is helping to establish the pattern
of service aboard the jets.


Although the four girls each had two years of flying experience, they
virtually had to re-learn their jobs when they were assigned to jets. During
their qualification schooling, they acted out in a 707 mockup the parts
they were to play in jet flight. They learned where supplies were and how
doors opened, lights operated and seats reclined. They learned that new
equipment, such as pop-out oxygen masks, is carried on the high-flying
707. They replaced the phrase “miles per hour” with the word “Mach” in
their vocabulary; “thrust” took the place of “horsepower” as they learned
the rudiments of the operation of the airplane’s four Pratt & Whitney
Aicraft commercial J–57 engines. They became familiar with the names and
functions of the parts of the airplane visible from cabin windows—such as
the vortex generator—which might arouse a passenger’s curiosity.

They had to know their jobs well. They would be performing more services
for more people in fewer hours. There would be no time for faltering,
fumbling, or finding out.

For their part in the inaugural flight, Claire and Argie even memorized the
names of the 106 passengers who would be aboard, in the hope that they
could make this the signal day it should be for each of the first-flighters.

. . . There was little time for the leisurely conversations they had enjoyed
with passengers on previous trips. What snatches of chatting they managed,
however, were unusually pleasant in the quiet, vibrationless cabin. . . .

A lot of changes have taken place in the stewardesses’ job since that first
flight. With an increased number of passengers requesting first-class accommodations,
the bulkhead on the 707 was moved back so that three of
the airplane’s four stewardesses work in the front section with 68 passengers,
and one in the aft with the remainder. The serving of the meal and
beverages and the other routines in the jet cabin have undergone changes
as Claire, Barbara, Gerry and Argie,  along with other jet stewardesses,
have studied their own capabilities on the flights, the passengers’ requirements,
and the most efficient way to use the 707’s cabin equipment.

All that being said, it is now history and a wonderful flight! 

I am excited to be at the Salt Lake International airport on the 25th of January 2016 to sign my book: More Than a Ticket Memoirs Flying with American Airlines from Props to Jets. As you come through Terminal 1, the Weller Book Works will greet you. I will be there from 8:00 am til 12:00 noon. I will welcome you with a smile and share my book

Here are some photos from my last signing. 

 Have a peaceful landing as you fly through the clouds of time.


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